Robotic cardiac surgery impact of a new patient-side assistant on outcomes

Gen Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2020 Jan;68(1):24-29. doi: 10.1007/s11748-019-01165-9. Epub 2019 Jun 25.


Objective: Very few studies have focused on the experience of the patient-side assistant in robotic cardiac surgery. We investigated whether the retirement of a highly experienced robotic patient-side assistant and replacement with a new assistant had an effect on surgical outcomes.

Methods: In 4/2016, the established patient-side assistant retired after spending 8 months training a new patient-side assistant. A retrospective analysis of 216 patients was performed; 108 patients over a 9 month period just prior to arrival of the new patient-side assistant (Group 1), and 108 patients over 8 months just subsequent to departure of the established assistant (Group 2). Case distribution, pre-operative characteristics, and surgical outcomes were collected and compared.

Results: Case volume increased in Group 2 with the new assistant. The mean age and rate of pre-op CVA for Group 1 was lower, but, otherwise, patient demographics were not significantly different. Group 1 had more intracardiac cases and group 2 had more triple-vessel TECABs. Overall operative time was not different between the two groups. Perioperative outcomes including hospital length of stay major adverse cardiovascular events and mortality were similar between the two groups.

Conclusions: We conclude that the transition to a new robotic cardiac surgical patient-side assistant does not have to affect the progress of a busy robotic program. If adequate time for training and gradual assumption of responsibility is ensured, it is feasible to make this transition without loss of volume or compromise in patient outcomes.

Keywords: Robotic cardiac surgery; Table-side assistant; Training.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / education
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Operative Time
  • Physician Assistants / education
  • Physician Assistants / standards*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures / education
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures / standards*