We recently welcomed Bob Kiaii as chief of cardiothoracic surgery. Kiaii is known internationally as a leader in pioneering minimally invasive cardiac procedures, including robotic-assisted heart surgery. At UC Davis Health, he leads a team that treats complex diseases of the lungs, esophagus and heart. Learn more about his first weeks as chief, along with his goals for his team and their patients.
Why did you decide to come to UC Davis Health?
I really liked the overall team approach to surgery at UC Davis and that all of our surgeons are leaders in their respective fields. I also liked the fact that the institution has invested in robotic technology, which is the future of heart surgery.
Why are you committed to robotic surgery?
I am committed to using the tools that are best suited for each patient. If robotic surgery could be an option, I always discuss it with my patients, because it can reduce recovery time from weeks to days. My goal is their safety, healing, and quick-as-possible return to their loved ones and normal functional activities.
What do you appreciate most about your team?
I am exceptionally lucky to lead a great team that is so complete. We have specialists who provide surgical care for any disease or condition of the chest ― from achalasia to lung cancer to coronary artery disease and complex aortic conditions. They are also skilled in new technologies as well as traditional surgical procedures.
What are some heart surgery research initiatives at UC Davis Health?
I think our comparative outcomes research advances our field the fastest. It helps us evaluate the benefits of one type of procedure over another. For instance, one of my studies showed that a combination of traditional percutaneous coronary revascularization plus less-invasive robotic-assisted surgical coronary intervention improved outcomes for some patients with complex coronary artery disease, rather than using just one or the other.
A few patient-care initiatives from the cardiothoracic surgery team
♦ Improved treatments for congenital heart conditions in children that reduce the possibility of later-in-life complications
♦ Expanded use of less-invasive procedures for complex aortic aneurysm repairs
♦ New precision electromagnetic technology for locating difficult-to-find lung tumors
♦ Increased options for end-stage heart failure, including mechanical pumps and, within the year, heart transplants
What is your first goal at UC Davis Health?
I’d like to implement a rapid-discharge strategy called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery, or ERAS, that I developed at my prior institution. The approach allows patients with specific post-surgery indicators to leave the hospital sooner than the typical timeline of seven to ten days. I firmly believe that patients recover more quickly when they can do so in the comfort of their own homes.
What do you like best about Sacramento?
I like having access to outdoor activities, how friendly and helpful everyone is, and that the health system is part of a large and diverse university campus in Davis. Being from Canada, I also appreciate the chance to experience all four seasons.