Although Froedtert Pleasant Prairie Hospital has had a robotic-assisted surgery program for almost 10 years, it was recently the site of the first robotic-assisted heart surgery in Kenosha County.

On Feb. 26, Dr. Goya Raikar, chief of cardiothoracic surgery for the Michael DeBakey Heart Institute of Wisconsin, performed the surgery.

Raikar is one of only a few surgeons in the country and currently the only cardiothoracic surgeon in Wisconsin that is performing this procedure. He has 15 years of experience in robotic-assisted heart surgery. He and the surgical heart team completed the minimally invasive heart procedure in just under 3½ hours.

Compared to traditional open heart surgery in which the patient’s sternum must be cut for the surgeon to access the heart, robotic assisted surgery uses thin instruments that the surgeon inserts through small incisions between the patient’s ribs, resulting in less pain and a faster recovery for the patient.

Additional benefits of robotic-assisted heart surgery include less blood loss, smaller scars, reduced risk of infection and decreased length of stay in the hospital.

According to Raikar, the most significant benefit is that robotic heart patients recover much quicker than traditional heart patients. Approximately five hours after the procedure, a robotic heart patient can sit up and visit with their family.

On the second day, the patient is walking and working with cardiac rehab and can resume a normal diet. By day three, most patients are ready to go home with some limited restrictions.

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