Heart surgery

Region’s first robotic heart surgery performed at MedStar Washington Hospital Center

Newswise – Washington, DC, May 4, 2022 – Brian Cohn, 64, of northwest Washington, is returning to his active life after undergoing the first robotic mitral valve surgery performed by Yuji Kawano, MD, at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Just three days after the procedure on April 19, Cohn returned home, thanks to this minimally invasive advanced surgical treatment for his mitral valve.

Cohn was diagnosed with mitral valve regurgitation, a common condition in which the heart’s two mitral valve leaflets, or flaps, don’t work properly, allowing blood to flow back — in the wrong direction.

“In a few days I should be back to my regular schedule with family and friends, versus months with the old open-chest approach. It’s such a leap forward and I’m so lucky to have met Dr. Kawano and his team,” Cohn said. “Really awesome. Thank you from my family and from the bottom of my heart and my mitral valve better than ever.

Dr. Yuji Kawano, director of the new robotic heart surgery program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, has extensive experience with the procedure, having previously performed more than 200 robotic heart surgeries and more than 2,000 heart and vascular surgeries.

“By combining the precision of robotic instruments with a high-definition 3D camera, we are now able to perform intracardiac procedures through very small incisions in the chest using the da Vinci® Surgical System,” said Dr. Kawano. “Robotic surgery is an excellent option for patients looking for faster recovery and less post-surgical pain, without compromising the clinical outcome of the surgery itself.”

MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s robotic cardiac surgery program is the first in the region to serve southern Maryland, the greater Washington, DC, and northern Virginia region.

Traditional heart surgery requires surgeons to open the chest to access the heart. It involves cutting through the sternum and opening the rib cage, which requires a large incision.

Using a robotic approach, surgeons slide instruments through five very small incisions, all less than an inch, between the ribs and through the chest wall. These tools have a wider range of motion than the human hand, allowing for more complex movements and increasing the precision of surgical technique. The robotic technique reduces the risk of post-surgical complications such as strokes, infections and blood loss, and shortens the length of hospital stay and recovery time. Patients also experience much less pain during their recovery as they do not heal from what is effectively a broken sternum.

“Robotic cardiac surgery is an exciting and important next step in the evolution of MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s cardiac surgery program,” said Christian Shults, MD, interim co-chair of the Cardiac Surgery Program at MedStar Health. “Our cardiac surgery program is already recognized as one of the largest and most experienced in the country. Robotic Cardiac Surgery is the latest example of our continuing tradition of clinical innovation and excellence.

In addition to robotic mitral valve surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, robotics will soon be used to treat other heart conditions such as coronary artery blockages, tricuspid valve disease, atrial fibrillation, septal defects ear and heart tumours.

It should be noted that MedStar Washington Hospital Center has been offering robotic surgery in other specialties since 2006. It started with robotic prostatectomy to treat prostate cancer and has now expanded to include head/neck surgery, bariatric surgery, benign and malignant gynecology, urology, thoracic surgery. , hernia repair and now heart surgery.


The MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a 912-bed nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in the nation’s capital. It is an important reference center for the treatment of the most complex cases in the region. Its cardiology program is highly regarded, and its cardiac surgery program has consistently earned the highest national rating—three stars—from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. MedStar Washington operates the region’s first Comprehensive Stroke Center and the district’s only cardiac ventricular assist device program, both certified by the Joint Commission. The hospital is also home to MedSTAR, a nationally verified Level I trauma center with a fleet of state-of-the-art helicopters and ambulances, and operates the only adult burn care center in the city. region.