UC Davis Health robotic cardiac team.

UC Davis Health earns national prominence as robotic surgery training center

UC Davis Health Department of Surgery, Cardiac Division is one of six host institutions for American Association for Thoracic Surgery Foundation


UC Davis Health has been designated as a training center for the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) Foundation’s Cardiac Surgical Robotics Program, the first such center in California and just the sixth in the United States.

Under the leadership of Bob Kiaii, chief of the Division of Adult Cardiac Surgery and adult cardiac surgeon Jorge Catrip, surgeons from across the country will come to UC Davis Health to learn surgical techniques to master the fundamentals of robotic mitral valve surgery.

“This designation is a significant accomplishment by the dedicated members of our UC Davis Health robotic cardiac team, including nursing, perfusion, anesthesia and cardiac surgery,” Kiaii said. “It illustrates our mission to offer the most advanced medical technology and provide the best health care to our patients.”

While traditional open surgery often requires long incisions that damage surrounding tissue, robot-assisted surgery is performed through tiny incisions of one to two centimeters, with minimal impact to the surrounding area. The robot’s arms mimic the surgeon’s movements, allowing for the procedure to be performed endoscopically.

“Advanced robotics is revolutionizing minimally-invasive surgery for both the patient and the physician,” said Dr. Kiaii. “The robot overcomes the limitations of traditional technology and allows patients to have proven cardiac surgical repairs without the invasive incisions.”

Patient benefits include less pain and blood loss, reduced risk of infection, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery.

UC Davis Health’s adult cardiology and heart surgery program is ranked the 26th best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The magazine also ranks the program as high performing in heart attack, heart failure, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR).

Cardiac surgeons from UCSF and Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego are scheduled for robotic training sessions at UC Davis Health after COVID-19 visitor restrictions are lifted.

Host surgeons and institutions that have partnered with the AATS Foundation on Cardiac Surgical Robotics Program include:

  • Bob Kiaii, MD, UC Davis Medical Center
  • Vinay Badhwar, MD, West Virginia University
  • Joseph Dearani, MD, Mayo Clinic
  • Marc Gillinov, MD, Cleveland Clinic
  • Eugene Grossi, MD, New York University
  • Michael Halkos, MD, Emory University at Midtown

Visit AATS for more information about the Cardiac Surgical Robotics Program.