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Department of Cardiovascular Sciences
Robotic Surgery Center for Training and Education

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Why train at the East Carolina Heart Institute?


East Carolina University has been a name at the forefront of minimally invasive cardiac surgery for the better part of the past decade. Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood performed the first mitral valve repair surgery in the United States in 2000 using this technology. Joined by Dr. L. Wiley Nifong, they led the federal Food and Drug Administration’s successful clinical trials on the use of surgical robots on cardiac patients. Since then, more than 700 surgeons have come to Greenville to study the minimally invasive surgical techniques pioneered by ECU surgeons. Techniques that allow them to give their patients back home a better quality of life. Today, over 1300 minimally invasive or robotic procedures have been performed at ECU.

The East Carolina Heart Institute continues to build on ECU’s global reputation as a leading destination for advanced robotic surgery training. The Robotic Surgery Center for Training and Education, established in 2002, trains surgeons from around the world in robotic cardiac and mitral valve procedures. The training program utilizes a surgeon-led approach; Surgeons are not only taught how to operate the surgical robot by a fellow surgeon, but also how to lead a surgical team in an environment, and through a surgical scenario, far different from what they may be accustomed to. We also offer the only advanced training for mitral valve repairs in the United States.

Since every surgeon who trains at the East Carolina Heart Institute possesses a different level of experience, we tailor each training experience to best meet those needs. In addition to the primary surgeon, our courses aim to train hospital administrators, cardiologists, electrophysiologists, and operating room managers, as well as surgical team members including anesthesiologists, anesthetists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, perfusionists, registered nurses, and surgical technicians. The East Carolina Heart Institute features the da Vinci ® Si Surgical System in our training center and in the operating rooms at Vidant Medical Center. Additionally, our staff continues to work with surgeons who we train even after they leave our center. Dr. Nifong often provides proctoring services at the trainees' own institutions and oversees robotic cases to help ensure success.

The staff at the East Carolina Heart Institute utilizes their own expertise to ensure our visitors’ experience is one-of-a-kind. We value the continued relationships we have established over the past decade and look forward to new ones in the upcoming years. Once here, you’re family!