Robotic specialist is the new chief of cardiac surgery

David Yuh, MD, brings a national reputation and passion for work

David Yuh, MD, has joined Yale Medical Group as chief of cardiac surgery and surgical director of Yale-New Haven Heart and Vascular Center. A highly respected surgeon with a national reputation, he specializes in minimally invasive robotic surgery, as well as all types of adult cardiac surgery, including heart transplantation and the implantation of mechanical cardiac assist devices.

As Connecticut’s premier referral center, the Heart and Vascular Center treats some of the most difficult heart patients in New England. Dr. Yuh plans to build upon the center’s reputation, offering an even wider variety of cardiac operations, with more minimally-invasive approaches, robot-assisted operations, percutaneous valve procedures, ablative operations for atrial fibrillation, and operations for heart failure.

“Yale already has an excellent heart and vascular program, and I’m happy to be in a position where I can contribute to that,” Dr. Yuh said. “This is a field that is changing every day, and I will be doing everything I can to make sure our program is at the forefront. I also will work very hard to make our practice more accessible and user-friendly for both new patients and referring physicians.”

Before coming to Yale, Dr. Yuh worked at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he formed and directed the Minimally-Invasive Cardiac Surgical Program. After performing the first robot-assisted cardiac operation at Hopkins, he developed a successful clinical practice, performing minimally-invasive cardiac valve repairs and replacements as well as ablative operations for the treatment of atrial fibrillation.

Dr. Yuh has applied his interest and expertise in minimally invasive surgical approaches to research in surgical robotic technologies, exploring ways of imparting tactile and force feedback to robotic systems, and using these systems to better assess technical skills among young surgical trainees. Most recently, he investigated ways of using advanced imaging techniques to construct computer models of the heart to provide surgeons with a means to better plan complex reconstructive operations preoperatively. His ability to collaborate with mechanical, computational and biomedical engineers in his research has led to several extramural research funding awards from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.

In addition to his clinical and research work, Dr. Yuh has made contributions on a national scale. He was recently chosen to serve on the highly-selective Food and Drug Administration Circulatory Systems Advisory Panel that evaluates new cardiac devices for clinical use. He is also chairing a major symposium at the annual meeting of the American Association of Thoracic Surgery and serving as a session moderator at the 2012 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.

“We are fortunate to have Dr. Yuh, an outstanding technical surgeon in the use of robotic surgical systems, assume the leadership of cardiothoracic surgery,” said Robert Udelsman, MD, MBA, chief of surgery. “Dr. Yuh’s experience will enhance Yale’s national and international reputation as a pioneer institution in developing new heart treatments and therapies.”

Dr. Yuh earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Stanford University, and completed residencies in general and cardiothoracic surgery at the Stanford University Medical Center, culminating as the chief resident in the department of cardiothoracic surgery. Dr. Yuh and his wife, Bonnie Hiatt, MD, and their 3½-half-year-old twins, Natalie and Christopher, live in Madison.