About Dr. Joanna Chikwe,
Heart Valve Surgeon
Hello! My name is Dr. Joanna Chikwe and I am a cardiac surgeon having graduated from Oxford University in 1997. To date, I have performed approximately 2,000 cardiac surgeries, of which most involved heart valve procedures. I regularly perform surgery at Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai. Read more...
I believe my greatest strength is excellent results.
My main expertise is less invasive (small incision) valve repair and coronary surgery. I studied medicine at Oxford University and I completed my residency in cardiothoracic surgery at the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals in London, followed by advanced fellowship training in valve repair at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
I am one of a handful of U.S. surgeons with advanced training in both reconstructive valve surgery and less invasive cardiac surgery techniques. I work closely with a dedicated plastic surgery and anesthesiology team with a specialist interest in less invasive cardiac surgery. My aim is to use valve repair to preserve natural valve tissue wherever possible, using smaller incisions to improve recovery, as well as off-pump surgery to avoid cardiopulmonary bypass for selected coronary bypass procedures.
I've written 6 surgical textbooks, including Cardiothoracic Surgery published by Oxford University Press; along with over 20 book chapters and articles on less invasive cardiac surgery. My international awards include a Fulbright Award, and the Society of Great Britain Cardiac Surgery Award, and I am a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.
50 Patient Reviews for
"My doctors had been telling me for 10 years that I would eventually need heart surgery. But it never felt real until this year, when they stopped saying “eventually.” As unprepared as I was for the news, I could not have asked for a better experience or a better surgeon than Dr. Chikwe and her team.
I was born with a heart defect, a bicuspid valve. Worse, I was developing an aneurysm. I never had any symptoms and my condition never slowed me down. I suppose I should have used those 10 years to read up on my condition and learn what the surgery and recovery would look like. But, yeah… that didn’t happen. However, I did take one proactive step during that time and it might have been the most important one.
Even though I changed jobs and health insurance plans several times during that period, I always made sure that Cedars-Sinai was my primary care facility. I paid more for it under some of those plans, but if I was eventually going to need heart surgery, I made damn sure it would be at Cedars.
My cardiologist referred me to Dr. Chikwe. From the initial consultation, she set me at ease. Dr. Chikwe is kind, confident, upbeat and extraordinarily open. Rather than walking in and saying, here’s what we’re gonna do, she pulled up a chair and asked, “what questions do you have?” Her answers were clear and concise. She spent as much time with me as I needed and we set a date for my surgery.
At that point, Dr. Chikwe’s team took over and held my hand through every step of the pre-op process. Other appointments and tests were needed and Mary Alvarado helped me schedule those. As I thought of new questions, Vivian Burkhart was right there to answer them. Vivian also reassured me that it was the right move to have the surgery before I showed any symptoms, as it would make my recovery that much quicker.
After the surgery, Dr. Chikwe personally visited me every night I was in the hospital. Each time before she left, she asked if I had any questions and answered any concerns. On the fifth day after surgery, I was released. Five days! I’m still amazed.
Within a week of being home, I was walking as much as I had before my surgery (a 20 minute walk, twice a day). A month later, I’m approaching the 10,000 steps a day my iPhone has been nagging me to do for years. Next week, I go back to work.
There were some hiccups along the way, but for the most part everything went as Dr. Chikwe laid out in our initial meeting. I can honestly say that I never doubted her.
The night after my surgery I felt like crap. I couldn’t even lift my iPad. It is a humbling experience to become that helpless.
Dr. Chikwe came by to reassure me that everything had gone well and that I’d be up and about soon. Before she left, she asked if I had any questions, as she always did. I shook my head. I was confident that I was in the best possible hands and that’s all I needed to know."
-- Doug Johnson, Aortic Valve, Valve Repair, Root Replacement, 07/26/2023
"When I found out I needed open heart surgery, I went from shock and confusion to hope and gratitude for the health breakthrough found at Cedars-Sinai! They reassured me I was at the right place!
Choosing Cedars was the best decision for me as later agreed by my local cardiologist. Because of the minimum invasive procedure, my recovery has been smooth. I have been able to regain my life.
A new determination has been birthed in me. I could not be more satisfied with Da Vinci mitral valve repair surgery performed by the world-class Dr. Joanna Chikwe and her amazing team of doctors and staff!
Dr. Chikwe is an exceptional surgeon whose kindness, patience, intelligence, and understanding exceeded my expectations. I left the hospital taking only Tylenol for pain and I really didn’t experience unbearable pain from the surgery site."
-- Shelia Hamilton, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 07/11/2023
I met with Dr. Chukumerije at Cedars in March 2023 (amazing doctor) who ran a few more tests and I was diagnosed with ascending aortic aneurysm and bicuspid aortic aneurysm which would require open heart surgery. I was shocked, I did not have any symptoms and was only 58 years old. He recommended I consult with the surgery department and that I make an appointment to see Dr. Chikwe.
Prior to seeing Dr. Chikwe I started my research into heart surgeons and hospitals that specialized in these types of surgeries, Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Hospital and Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. I decided that the surgeon would be Dr. Joanna Chikwe at Cedars-Sinai. The answer was easy due to the extensive and impressive information and videos available on Dr. Chikwe. With her experience, expertise, and success rate in these types of heart repairs, there was no question.
During our initial consultation with her and her Nurse Practitioner, Vivian Burkhart. Dr. Chikwe took her time and extensively explained to me and my partner what would happen during the procedure and after. We never felt rushed during our visit and she answered all our questions and never once felt dismissed. She recommended I not wait more than 6 months and she performed my surgery on May 18, 2023.
I am now 4 months post-surgery and feeling great. I had an uneventful surgery with no complications. I was in the hospital for 4 days and discharged on day 5. I was walking and going upstairs from my first day home from the hospital and only needed Extra Strength Tylenol for the first few weeks for pain/discomfort.
Dr. Chikwe is an outstanding surgeon and an incredibly nice, intelligent person. She has a calm, confident and soothing manner along with a great sense of humor. I cannot thank her and her surgical team enough for taking great care of me and my partner, they are all simply the best! Dr. Chikwe was with us every step of the way.
Shout out to Mary Alvarado who made my appointments and communications seamless. Vivian Burkhart, her Nurse Practitioner (also great sense of humor), was there every step of the way to guide us through the entire process and always answered the thousands of questions we had pre and post operation. She was awesome and even called me the weekend after I arrived home. We were extremely impressed with her knowledge and expertise in cardiology. She was vital and invaluable in her overall caring and assistance throughout the entire process.
Most importantly the entire staff of ICU nurses, nurses, doctors, lab technicians and assistants that monitored and took care of me during my hospital stay was beyond exception. The friendly, caring staff contributed to my incredibly quick recovery and if I could name them all I would.
Cedars-Sinai is an outstanding hospital that I will always recommend. Thank you, once again, Dr. Chikwe, you are the best of the best."
-- Susan Heizmann, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, Median Sternotomy, 05/18/2023
My primary care physician had discovered a heart murmur during a routine visit. He had an echocardiogram ordered that showed I had a mitral valve leak. He then referred me to a cardiologist.
My cardiologist diagnosed me with mitral valve prolapse with severe mitral valve regurgitation. I didn't have any symptoms with the exception of getting out-of-breath only with exertion. He monitored me for the next 4 years with echocardiograms every 6 months. The regurgitation slowly but steadily increased over 3 1/2 to 4 years. At this stage, he strongly recommended surgery for mitral valve repair and would refer me to a surgeon.
That surgeon would be Dr. Joanna Chikwe at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, California. Once I researched her experience and expertise in mitral valve repair, there was no question she was the surgeon for me. I was nervous I would have to research multiple surgeons to compare and be confused as to who to choose. That wasn't the case due to the extensive and impressive information and videos available on Dr. Chikwe.
The decision was sealed after an initial consultation visit with her and her Nurse Practitioner, Vivian Burkhart. Dr. Chikwe performed my mitral valve repair on April 18, 2023 through minimally-invasive da Vinci Robotic-Assisted Surgery.
Vivian was just as impressive with her knowledge and expertise in cardiology. She was vital and invaluable in her overall caring and assistance throughout the entire process.
I am now 6 weeks post-surgery and I had an uneventful surgery with no complications. I was in the hospital 4 days and discharged on day 5. I was walking and even going upstairs from my first day home from the hospital. I only needed Extra Strength Tylenol for the first week and a half for mild pain/discomfort. I was also cleared to drive at 3 weeks post surgery and all recovery has been text book. I will now start cardiac rehab to improve stamina, endurance and strength.
Dr. Chikwe is an outstanding surgeon and an incredible human being. She has a calm, confident and soothing bedside manner. I can't thank her and her surgical team enough for taking great care of me, they are all Rock Stars! Mary Alvarado, her scheduler made and kept appointments and communications seamless. Vivian Burkhart, her Nurse Practitioner, was there every step of the way to guide me through the whole process and answer any and all questions. She is such a comfort to ease any nervousness a patient might have. Last, but certainly not least, the entire staff of nurses, doctors, lab and assistants that monitored and took care of me during my hospital stay was exceptional. Cedars Sinai is an outstanding hospital. All my encounters were smooth and seamless.
Thank you, once again, Dr. Chikwe, you are a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Cardiac Surgeon! "
-- Donna Stropoli, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 04/18/2023
I was born with a defective heart valve, and it has been monitored for the past 10 years unfortunately just recently it has gone to the point where I needed open heart surgery. My first treatment option was to repair the valve with the standard methods of open-heart surgery, but I chose to get a second opinion. After extensive research on the Internet, it was very apparent that I needed to speak with Dr. Chikwe and her team.
Dr. Chikwe is a renowned cardiac surgeon with years of experience in robotic surgery. After my consultation with Dr. Chikwe, she left me with the feeling of comfort and reassurance. Dr. Chikwe answered all my questions and made me feel that she genuinely cared about my health and wellbeing, her humble approach and gentle calming demeanor was exactly what I needed to help me through this challenging time.
Now... Onto two of the members of her staff, Vivian Burkhart is my Nurse Practitioner and a wonderful jewel she is! As the consummate professional, she returned all my phone calls promptly, and answered all my questions with a kindness, and concern that you just do not find in the healthcare industry today.
Mary Alvarado is a credit to her profession, she helped me in navigating through the records transfer process, appointments and paperwork. This process can be stressful, but Mary made me feel that I had a real go to person, and she was there at every intersection to help me speed through the process so my healing could begin. These individuals are just two of the threads woven into the warm blanket of caring that this team provides to their patients.
Unfortunately, this is not the first thoracic surgery that has been performed on me. I am a lung cancer survivor, I have been in remission for five years and along with three other surgeries in my past, I know a little something about the healthcare industry and the care that you can expect to receive, let me tell you there has been none that have performed to the level in which Doctor Chikwe, her team and the entire Cedars-Sinai Hospital staff have throughout my care.
I could go on for hours, telling the story of how special Dr. Chikwe and her team are but you really need to come experience it for yourself. I guarantee if you have a consultation with these caring professionals, you will see why I put my life in their hands.
I hope that by me telling my story others will find comfort. I know it is a scary journey but when you have the best of the best holding your hand, you too, will have a positive outcome.
May God bless Doctor Chikwe, her Surgical team, Vivian Burkhart, Mary Alvarado and the entire Cedars-Sinai Hospital staff. With Deepest Regards. Sharon B. P.S. A huge thank you to the Doctors, Nurses and staff of the I.C.U. (The Best in The Biz)"
-- Sharon Bickel, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 04/12/2023
They referred me to Cedars-Sinai and Dr. Joanna Chikwe and I am beyond happy that they did. Finding out about this condition was a surprise, but Dr. Chikwe and her team put me at ease immediately, entirely and honestly filling me in on what needed to be done and why, doing additional tests in anticipation of the surgery to repair my regurgitating valve and relieve my A-fib too.
They even worked with my crazy pillar-to-post schedule to put me exactly where I needed to be and at just the right time. They did all of this with kindness, attention, expertise and good humor. I very much appreciated that.
The surgery went really well. I was up and walking (slowly!) the same day, out of the hospital in a few days and have been getting stronger each day since.
In fact, it took me a few weeks to write this because I am so deeply grateful to Dr. Chikwe and her entire team that I really didn’t have the words until now."
-- Frank Gladstone, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Maze Procedure, 03/30/2023
She is one of the few cardiothoracic surgeons in the entire nation that does what she does and we are blessed to have access to her skills and humanity in our own backyard. God bless your "heart" Dr. Chikwe, as you have blessed mine.
I feel like you have given me a second chance at having an active life again."
-- Mariam Mashhadi, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 03/29/2023
I returned to Cedars on March 13, 2023 for my post-op checkup with Dr. Chikwe and Vivian Burkhart, NP. They could not believe how well I was doing and how well I looked.
Before my surgery, my regurgitation was severe with symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pain and extreme fatigue. Now, my regurgitation is "trivial" with no signs or symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pain and my energy level is incredible.
My friends and family tell me I look great and sound great. They can tell a big difference in my voice when speaking, no gasping for oxygen as I spoke. I never realized I had this, as this came on gradually and I chalked up to getting older. Now, as I climb the stairs in my house and do chores, I have so much energy.
I would recommend Dr. Chikwe over-and-over again for this type of surgery. Her success rate is 97 to 98%. Her bedside manners are superb and she answers any questions you have. She is very calming as she speaks and reassures you that she is going to do whatever she can to make your heart better again."
-- Jonette Kruk, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 03/01/2023
Dr. Chikwe embodies the perfect combination of mastery and humanity. Her achievements and high-volume record of successful mitral valve surgeries would have been enough for me to know I was in the best possible hands. But I also appreciated her kind and cheerful personality, and her intuitive ability to give me clear information in a framework I understood.
The surgery was a complete success, with my 50% regurgitation being reduced to 0%, no complications, and minimal scars. The surgical team communicated with my husband by text throughout the procedure to give him updates. During the 1 day in ICU and 3 more in the hospital, we were both amazed at the precise systems that the staff employed: the built-in redundancies, checks and double-checks of each test, procedure, medication...all performed with such caring and good cheer. We understand why this hospital is so highly rated!
To top it off, Dr. Chikwe's nurse, Vivian Burhart, has been absolutely invaluable in the recovery period, answering my countless little questions at all hours. Her responsiveness has helped me at each step of the recovery period. Within the two weeks I was able to walk 2-4 miles a day, and now at week 5, I'm back to almost all my normal activities, pain-free, and looking forward to an even stronger heart in the months to come.
My family and I highly recommend Dr. Chikwe and the Cedars-Sinai Smidt Heart Institute. "
-- Lisa Harrington, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 12/15/2022
I did not have typical deteriorating valve symptoms prior to my diagnosis of “a severe stenosis of the aortic valve with a dilated root.” In fact, I felt pretty good except for feeling a little dizzy when I bent over. My heart condition was actually discovered during routine pre-op testing for my scheduled hysterectomy! Needless to say, that surgery was put on an immediate hold while my heart surgery took precedence and was immediately scheduled. Enter Mary Alvarado, Dr. Chikwe’s surgery scheduler, who was from day one, extremely professional, competent and amazing at her job. What a gem.
It was during my initial consult that Lynn and I met the renowned Dr. Joana CHIKWE, her nurse practitioner, Vivian Burkhart, and Mary. To say that this trio exudes calm and instills immediate confidence is a vast understatement. Dr. Chikwe is an extraordinary surgeon, and she always gives you her laser-beam focus whenever she talks with you. She is empathetic, kind, and answers every question you ask. I
We never once felt hurried, or that she was anything but 100% concerned about my health and well being. Dr. Chikwe is unparalleled in her surgical skills, and from the moment we met her, we knew we were in the most gifted surgical hands in cardiac care. We still marvel at how very fortunate that we found her!
Vivian. She is a phenomenal nurse practitioner, who was there for us every step of the way. She answered each and every question we had those 7 weeks with unbelievable compassion and understanding. And her knowledge in the cardiology field is remarkable. Vivian was a blessing, someone who held our hands from beginning to end, and as a result, she will be our life-long friend.
So, to say we are filled with gratitude does not even gloss the surface. We are indebted to this wonderful and talented group of individuals for the rest of our lives. Dr. Hiker and her cardiac team are quite simply are second to none.
My surgery experience. Well, despite how intimidating open heart surgery sounds, and is, my experience with the phenomenal Dr. Chikwe and her surgical team, the incredible and heart-warming care in the ICU and the Mini-ICU made my surgery outcome a remarkable success.
I was released from Cedars-Sinai five days after my cardiac surgery. My incision was approximately 4” long! And when I went home, I was able to manage pain by mid-week with a muscle relaxer and Tylenol! There was pain in the surgical area, mostly in the breast bone location, but it was very manageable.
I followed my post surgery instructions and I was religious about walking 30 minutes a day during the first week and kept increasing it until I was up to 45 minutes to an hour by week 4. I also did my daily leg and arm exercises, and I maintained a low sodium diet of under 2,000 mg of sodium a day.
By the beginning of week 5 post surgery, I went back to work! I sell new homes for a builder, so it is not laborious physically, but I resumed full time work from day one. I am now 6 weeks post surgery and getting ready for my complete hysterectomy in 12 days. Overall, I feel pretty good. My only problem has been hot flashes that I started having a month before my valve replacement, so I’m not sleeping as restfully as I would be otherwise.
Thank you, Dr. Chikwe, my amazing life saver; your extraordinary surgical team; Vivian, our special guardian Angel; and Mary, the wonderful and vigilant Gatekeeper. And lastly, thank you Cedars-Sinai for caring enough about your patients to provide the best surgeon, staff, and medical care on the planet! ❤️ to you all! "
-- Markolita Camden, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 12/07/2022
Dr. Chikwe and Vivian Burkhart, her nurse practitioner, were so calm and gentle with me and showed so much warmth and patience. Dr. Chikwe was an angel in my eyes. She saved me and gave me a 'second chance' at life. I knew that I was in the best hands I could be because my family quickly looked her up and told me so!
I still can't believe how calm she was and sweet and patient she was with me, as busy as she is. She always treated me like she had all the time in the world to address my fears and let me know exactly what was going on with my heart.
I will never ever forget her or her team, especially Vivian, who made sure to see me right before my surgery.
I highly recommend Dr. Chikwe and her whole team. I'm forever grateful for this 'second chance' in life and I know I wasn't an easy surgery. God bless Dr. Chikwe and her team! I'm 3 weeks post-op today. I'm feeling more and more like myself again - walking, cooking, and slowly getting better. I still get tired a bit from activities, but I know that I will regain my strength and heal up and be better than before!!!! A New Me!!!!!
I have no idea how to thank Dr. Chikwe from the bottom of my heart! "
-- Elizabeth Walker, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 11/22/2022
I searched during 4 years, left Kaiser and by the grace of God watched a video on YouTube about Dr. Joanna Chikwe. I learned that she was doing exactly what I was looking for: A repair of my own mitral valve through a minimally invasive procedure, the DaVinci Mitral Valve Repair.
I thank God for putting Dr. Chikwe at Cedars-Sinai in my life. With her knowledge and calming ways of explaining, I immediately decided to go ahead with my surgery. A week later, she gave me a second chance for a normal life. I have no words to describe the feeling on how happy and grateful I am. The whole experience beginning with her staff, Mary A. Vivian B. and the rest of the great nurses, too many to mention. Thanks! Thanks! Thanks! Grazie mille!"
-- Claudio Landeros, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 10/20/2022
She is wonderful! My surgery was great. I have had no pain and I was walking the day after the surgery. Dr. Chikwe is the most caring and understanding doctor I have ever had. She explains everything thoroughly, takes her time and makes all her patients feel at ease and she really cares for us. I am forever thankful for Dr. Chikwe.
Anyone who is fortunate enough to have a surgery done by Dr. Chikwe is very lucky. Dr. Chikwe's staff members, Vivian, Mary and others were all the best as well. Everyone in the ICU and the hospital was helpful and caring. Overall, this was a great surgery with the best surgeon ever! Thank you Dr. Chikwe!"
-- Kristiina Runge, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 09/20/2022
Prior to finding out about Dr. Chikwe and Cedars-Sinai, I had been told by a prospective surgeon at Kaiser Permanente, my former provider, that he did not recommend repairs because they usually didn't work, and that I therefore needed a mitral valve replacement. After extensively researching the matter, I discovered that leading heart-valve surgeons throughout the world were migrating away from valve replacements in favor of repairs, and that increasingly such repairs were being performed via minimally invasive techniques. The data is unequivocal: if a valve repair is done right, no further surgery is necessary down the road and one's life expectancy isn't altered one iota. With a valve replacement, it's just the opposite.
As a result, I changed insurance to get into the Cedar-Sinai system of care—one of the best moves I've ever made. I feel sad for patients out there who may be getting unnecessary valve replacements simply because their provider or surgeon is "behind the curve," and when they would be better off with a less invasive repair. Please DO YOUR RESEARCH!! And know that you're NOT STUCK with your current insurance or doctor. You can easily change these to get the best possible, most state-of-the-art care available.
After all, it's your HEART we're talking about. You only have one. Yours deserves the best! And in this regard, I can't say enough good things about Dr. Chikwe and her team at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center."
-- Bill Light, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 09/20/2022
As I left my home community to travel to Los Angeles to meet Dr. Chikwe at Cedars-Sinai, I was in true despair. Seemingly unable to get the lifesaving surgery that I so desperately needed, I feared that I would either die young; or perhaps live just another ten years until I needed surgery again. And I was still in pain from the partial incision from my aborted surgery attempt. To make matters worse, the community where I am from has a serious drug addiction problem, so it was hard to get pain medications. I really needed for Cedars and Dr. Chikwe to make a difference for me.
And this is when Dr. Chikwe got to work. At first, she referred me to Dr. Raj Makkar, the famed Cedars cardiologist renowned for his pioneering work in the field of minimally invasive valve surgery. After an extended review process with him, Dr. Makkar decided that a minimally invasive procedure called a TAVR would be too risky for me because deployment of the valve could cause my heart to rupture. This was a difficult decision — but it was the right decision and I accepted it respectfully. Minimally invasive surgeries won’t work for everyone. This is one reason why highly skilled surgeons like Dr. Chikwe are so important.
Dr. Chikwe then laid out my options for surgery. The heart valve replacement using pig, cow, or a metal ring were still possible. But then she made a suggestion that changed my entire outlook: Dr. Chikwe offered me a Ross procedure — a procedure so advanced and sophisticated that it cannot be offered by every surgeon. In a Ross procedure, the aortic valve is replaced with a patient’s own pulmonary valve. The pulmonary valve, in turn, is replaced with a patient’s own tissue. Dr. Chikwe’s ability to offer such a highly skilled technique was a game-changer compared to the prior surgeon. For it meant that the repairs could be permanent, and I wouldn’t need surgery again as I would have in the previously offered valve procedures. At last, after fearing that I might not live to see my kids grow up or would need repeat surgeries — I found hope in the world class skills of Dr. Chikwe. She could save my life with no repeat surgeries.
Superior surgical skills compared to other surgeons are just part of where Dr. Chikwe succeeds and exceeds. What is just as special about Dr. Chikwe is how she relates to her patients and comforts them. For although she is one of the best heart surgeons in the world, Dr. Chikwe is kind, humble, approachable, and relatable. She was constantly amazing in her empathy and how she always considered my feelings and my family’s feelings. One thing that blew me away is that during my surgery, she called my wife every two hours to update her on my progress. I’ve never had care like this anywhere else. Dr. Chikwe’s honesty is also comforting and helped me to make sense of my challenging experience. When we planned my surgery, Dr. Chikwe said that due to the complexity of my surgery that only the most highly skilled surgeons would be assisting her. That is where Cedars’ Congenital Cardiac Surgeon, Dr. Richard Kim, entered my process. Dr. Kim was also incredible, as he noted that my Ross procedure would need to be a Ross-Konno, meaning that my left ventricular outflow tract would also have to be enlarged due to severe calcification of my valve. Dr. Chikwe also redid all my preoperative scans, as Cedars has all of the most up-to-date equipment that not all hospitals have. At the other hospital, I woke up in the middle of a trans esophageal echo scan because of inadequate sedation. But there were no such problems at Cedars.
Dr. Chikwe’s nurse practitioner, Vivian, was another game changer. Vivian always answered all our calls and acted as though she actually wanted to hear from us. At the other hospital, our calls would be brushed aside as if they were just waiting to see us during our paid consultation so they could collect our insurance. Vivian took care of all my medication issues immediately and even called on weekends. Dr. Chikwe was so calm, confident, and reassuring. She told me that I’d make it through. And sure enough, when I awoke in recovery with a ventilator in my mouth, I knew I had survived. I was also astonished to not be in pain. The nurses on Dr. Chikwe’s team at Cedars were also wonderful and checked on me constantly. I give Dr. Chikwe an “A+” in knowledge, class, empathy, and approach. Vivian and the rest of Dr. Chikwe’s care team also score at the top of the class. The difference between Dr. Chikwe and her team and the prior surgeon and hospital is like night and day. It’s as if Dr. Chikwe is a professional, and the others were amateurs.
I am a pillar for my family and had I not been alive to provide for my wife and kids, they would have lost their home and my kids could not have gotten the education they are getting. I went from feeling that I was going to die leaving my wife as a widow and my kids without a father to having a rich, full life, with decades of hope and expectations. And my kids are only ages 3,5, and 6 — which made my concerns even more critical and deeply felt. I was being chewed up with worry about the thought of my wife being left alone without me. Because of Dr. Chikwe, the apprehension that had consumed my world was replaced with optimism for the future of my wife and children. In saving my life, I could not ask Dr. Chikwe for a greater gift.
I recommend Dr. Chikwe and her team to anyone who needs surgery, and I’ve already recommended her to a friend who has his own challenging heart diagnosis. And as much as souls can be judged by how much others love them, I can say that when I was on my walks during my recovery at Cedars, that when I would tell the nurses that it was Dr. Chikwe who did my surgery, that they would answer, “oh, we just love Dr. Chikwe!” Dr. Chikwe truly is the best that humanity has to offer. I’ve never met a finer doctor or a more empathetic, supportive person. Dr. Chikwe has restored my life and my faith in doctors."
-- Timothy Fitzgerald, Aortic Valve, Pulmonary Valve, Root Replacement, Ross Procedure, 08/07/2022
I never took pain pills and a month after the surgery I felt great.
Before the surgery, I was having trouble breathing and had felt that that was normal. But after surgery with Dr. Chikwe, I feel like a whole new person with a whole new life. I can breathe and take walks and not be out of breath. I can truly say that Mavis’s got her groove back! Dr. Chikwe and her team made me feel like part of a family and I would definitely come back if I ever needed care again."
-- Mavis White, Mitral Valve, Maze Procedure, 08/02/2022
So, I looked for the second opinion and thank God that I met Dr. Chikwe. She listened and answered all of my concerns and questions. Then, she also introduced me to the 'Ross' procedure as the third option which I didn't even know existed, and it was the perfect choice for me.
It is a bit more complex procedure than tissue or mechanic value but it has the benefit of both. If you are a younger patient like me (46-years-old on the surgery day), you will be faced with the dilemma: a short life span of tissue valve with no blood thinner or relatively longer life mechanic valve with blood thinner which may cause blood clot or stroke.
With the Ross procedure, you will have longer life span with NO blood thinner. I am taking just 2 baby aspirin tables daily. That's it!!
Since it is a complex procedure, it has to be performed by the best surgeon and guess who can do it? Dr. Chikwe does!! She did it on my heart, and "MY HEART WILL GO ON" If you need a heart surgeon, you should consult with Dr. Chikwe and you will be so glad you meet her.
By the way many kudos to the nurses at ICU. Thank you so much for taking good care of me!!! "
-- Jay Kim, Aortic Valve, Ross Procedure, 07/26/2022
After listening to her very educational and informative videos, plus reviewing her bio I knew she would be my surgeon of choice for my open heart surgery. Dr. Chikwe and her whole team gave me a sense of security and you knew this is where excellence happens! Like a well orchestrated symphony, Dr. Chikwe's team assures a level of ease.
With Mary Alvardo, the Patient Service Representative handling the scheduling and all of the questions and the very helpful hand and beautiful smile of Vivian Burkhart, Dr. Chikwe's NP. You just know having the world’s experts at your bedside you would have the best possible outcome. They are truly pros giving you 5 star treatment. In return, I give Dr. Chikwe and her entire team and the staff at Cedars-Sinai the stars of the galaxies! Thank you saving my heart! "
-- Stan Waltemyer, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 05/19/2022
She specializes in mitral valve repair with minimally invasive robotic surgery. Her bedside manner is outstanding. Such a kind and caring doctor. I am extremely happy with my results thus far and highly recommend her.
After all, you want the best of the best when it comes to the heart surgery and that she is!"
-- Scott Wallace, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 05/04/2022
For several years I suffered from mild Mitral Valve regurgitation with no need for any intervention. In February I contracted Covid. Though fully vaccinated, my Mitral valve regurgitation became severe, only a few weeks before my highly anticipated trip to Israel for my daughter’s wedding. As soon as I was Covid clear I had a Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE), and a 3 days later I met with Dr. Chikwe. She needed to tell me that I could not go to the wedding, and that robotic Mitral valve surgery was needed as soon as possible. She was super sensitive and supportive when she told me this very sad news.
As a curious engineer I spent endless hours researching this procedure, and then asking very detailed questions. Dr. Chikwe had all the time and patience to answer my questions and alleviate my concerns. The hours of research, her impressive education and academic record, her vast experience in robotic Mitral valve repair, as well as the recommendation from another senior cardiologist paid off. I was clearly in very good hands.
I was very lucky to have the surgery within a week due to another patient’s cancelation. During this week my condition deteriorated significantly. I counted the days till the surgery. I knew that Dr. Chikwe most likely saved my life by not allowing me to wait till after my daughter’s wedding.
The surgery went very well. After the procedure there was no mitral valve regurgitation. My recovery was very fast. I was released after 5 days, and a week later I was already doing 5 miles on my treadmill. Throughout my recovery in the hospital there were frequent visits by Dr. Chikwe and her team. The first days after the surgery were not easy, but having her and her team there made me feel very well take care of and eased my worries.
One month after the surgery I am back to driving, working full time at the office, and enjoying even better health than before I contracted Covid.
Dr. Chikwe is a very special person. I consider myself very fortunate to have chosen her as my surgeon."
-- Ilan Paz, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 03/17/2022
This was not going to be an easy surgery. So, I interviewed surgeons at leading hospitals in California and other parts of the country. I chose Dr. Chikwe because she is the only surgeon who gave answers that really made sense. I have a friend who is a doctor and along with my wife, we conference-called the surgeons that I was considering. Dr. Chikwe was upfront in saying that she didn’t want to keep me on the heart-lung machine for very long, and that she could insert something to reduce the possibility of blood clots. When we asked about the risks of mortality, Dr. Chikwe said that if we had replaced the aortic valve in a minimally invasive way with a procedure known as a “TAVR,” that this could put dangerous pressure on my aneurysm. Dr. Chikwe made me realize that having an incision in my chest really was the safest option for me.
Dr. Chikwe’s nurse practitioner, Vivian, is also great. Vivian called me on weekends to check on my progress. The nurses were also outstanding during my five-day stay. The were very, very attentive. There was always someone there to talk with me at all times. And the nurses were all so enthusiastic and positive despite the very tough job that they all have to do. After surgery I had a normal complication called a pleural effusion, which is when fluid builds up in the lungs. I had to have my lungs drained twice after surgery. The staff handled this well and got me through it and my recovery continued normally. They also helped me to manage my pain following surgery. I also had cardiac rehab after leaving the hospital and this helped my recovery very much.
As I recovered and came to feel well again, I was so appreciative of the care given to me by Dr. Chikwe, Vivian, and the entire team that I made financial contributions to Cedars-Sinai in their names. My care takers were all great. I want to support their work and research so that they can help other patients as they helped me."
-- Viktor Failiba, Aortic Valve, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Valve Replacement, 02/22/2022
Dr. Chikwe is supported by an amazing staff. Vivian Burkhart, her nurse practitioner, called me at home on Friday night February 4, at 7 pm to inform me that my CT angio showed that my main coronary arteries were 90% and 100% clogged. Then, on Saturday, February 5, I received calls at home from both Vivian and my Cedars cardiologist, Dr. Janet Wei, to discuss the urgency of my situation. Dr. Wei had already diagnosed me with severe mitral regurgitation, and we knew that I would need to have my mitral valve repaired. Because we first only thought that it was the valve that needed surgery, Dr. Chikwe had planned to repair it robotically. But she wanted to have the entire heart checked before surgery is performed. This is when the blockages were found, and I realized that I would have to have a chest incision with a heart-lung machine used for my surgery. On Monday, February 7, Dr. Wei and Vivian had a heart cath test run to determine the exact location of my blockage. And when I met with Dr. Chikwe and Vivian on Friday, February 11, to plan my surgery, her surgery scheduler, Mary Alvarado, came in to tell us that there was a cancellation in the OR and she could schedule me for surgery right away on Tuesday, February 15. I will never forget how Mary tried to get me in to the OR so quickly.
Following the surgery, my care team at Cedars was awesome. I have a newfound respect for nurses because of my experience at Cedars. The nurses were so kind, so patient, and so helpful in the ICU (Emily and Gio) and on the regular patient floor too. I am amazed at how kind and helpful the nurses are and yet — they are dealing with sick people all day long and their tubes, x-rays, charts, medications, and other patients all at the same time! I also had the nicest talks with nurses from all over the world. I recall nurses from the Philippines and Russia who were especially nice. I also want to mention how all of this started. I saw Dr. Christine Shufelt in the Women’s Menopause Program for hormone therapy for the first time in September 2021. When Dr. Shufelt looked at my stress echo test results, cholesterol, and blood pressure readings from four years earlier with another doctor, she immediately referred me to Dr. Janet Wei as my cardiologist. So, if I hadn’t met with Dr. Shufelt for something unrelated to heart issues, I never would have been referred to either Dr. Wei or to Dr. Chikwe. And I might not be here now, either. I credit Dr. Shufelt with saving my life, just as I credit Dr. Wei and Dr. Chikwe. Care is truly a team effort at Cedars.
Seven months later, I feel great. My heart is stronger, and I am back on the tennis court playing tennis with my friends. I also want to put in a plug for cardiac rehab. I first turned it down because I thought I’d exercise on my own. But I changed my mind. I went three times per week for a total of 23 sessions. It was so amazing to be with other heart surgery patients. As we exercised, we were hooked up to monitors so that nurses could look at our hearts. And I cannot describe how helpful and reassuring this was. We also received nutritional counseling and learned about how our hearts work. I cannot advocate cardiac rehab strongly enough.
I am so glad that Dr. Chikwe was my surgeon and that I had the entire team at Cedars including Vivian, Dr. Wei, Dr. Shufelt, and all the other nurses and doctors. I was lucky to have Dr. Chikwe and her team because the right people MATTER. And Dr. Chikwe, Vivian, Dr.Wei, Dr. Shufelt — and all the nurses and caretakers at Cedars ARE the right people. They don’t mess around at Cedars. I am still so impressed that Vivian and Dr. Wei both called me at home on a weekend. Both my husband and I agree we’ve never seen care like this before. Dr. Chikwe and the team of doctors and nurses at Cedars saved my life!"
-- Brenda Sternthal, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 02/15/2022
This concerned me because I had done my own homework and had read that mitral valve repairs are preferable to replacement because repairs mean fewer complications, such as stroke from clotting. And replaced mitral valves also must be replaced again in yet another operation after a period of years. I wanted a mitral repair because it had a greater chance of being permanent. But I felt that my concerns were being belittled. When I tried to be proactive in understanding my own care as patients are encouraged to do, the prior institution scolded me and sneered “we have all you need right here so don’t go looking elsewhere.” It seemed that the prior surgeon just wanted to pop in a new valve because the surgery would be quicker, easier, and would require less skill. And even if they did repair instead of replace the valve, they didn’t instill confidence that they would do it to the standards I was hoping for. Frustrated with the other hospital, I sought a second opinion with Dr. Joanna Chikwe at Cedars-Sinai. Even though the other institution’s insurance meant paying out of pocket for Dr. Chikwe, my decision to come to Cedars-Sinai to consult with Dr. Chikwe turned out to be the best decision I could have possibly made.
Sitting down to consult with Dr. Chikwe at Cedars was transformative for me. What drew me the most to Dr. Chikwe was her sense of calm coupled with complete competence. She conveyed the most amazing sense of knowledge about my surgery – yet she had no ego. When people are truly great at what they do – and Dr. Chikwe is – they have nothing to prove to anyone. Where the prior surgeon had been aggressive and competitive, Dr. Chikwe was simply calm and reassuring. Great surgeons like Dr. Chikwe have nothing to prove and can just calmly explain it like it is. What really won me over is that Dr. Chikwe showed the greatest concern for every one of my questions and feelings. I had never experienced such empathy from a doctor before in a situation as sensitive as this. She was completely patient with all my questions and answered each one in detail. Dr. Chikwe said in the most comforting manner that she could, in fact, repair my mitral valve when the other institution appeared to say “yes” only to appease me in hopes of getting my business. Even better, Dr. Chikwe said that she could repair my valve robotically, so that she could save me the additional pain and extended recovery time associated with having my chest cut open and my ribs spread. The other hospital didn’t even have the robotic option. As we talked, Dr. Chikwe could also tell how scared I was. But her combination of deep knowledge and concern for my feelings helped me to feel more relaxed and took me to a more Zenlike place, where I felt a sense of perspective about how the surgery could be manageable and help me to get my life back on track.
When the surgery day came, both Dr. Chikwe and her team helped me to feel prepared. And from this team, another star emerged, and that was my nurse practitioner: Vivian Burkhart. Throughout the entire experience, Vivian was great. She explained to me before the surgery that there would be tubes in my mouth (which came out right after surgery), chest (these stayed in a few days), wires from an external pacemaker (these also stayed in a few days), and a urinary catheter (this came out after a day or so). Vivian was honest that there would be some post operative pain, and she explained what my options were with pain meds. She emphasized that exercise was also part of the process, and Vivian let me know that a big part of recovery was using an inhaler and taking walks in the hospital to get my lungs and legs back in to shape. Then, Dr. Chikwe’s entire care team helped me to recover.
The rest of Dr. Chikwe’s team and the hospital staff showed the same ongoing nursing care that Vivian shared. The nurses were so amazing in how they took care of me. I was always asking a lot of questions in order to navigate the challenges of post-op recovery, and just as Dr. Chikwe had, the hospital doctors and nursing team were always patient and answered every single one. Like Dr. Chikwe, the other doctors and nurses always acknowledged my feelings and were never dismissive. They talked through my questions in detail with me, adjusted my meds as needed, and always showed respect by explaining medications and procedures with a caring and patient tone. Their care for me caused me to respect them as well - and made me want to be a better patient. Dr. Chikwe also came by to check on me and saw that my pain was managed. The nurses frequently took me on walks to get my strength back so that my lungs could gain back their full capacity (walking along the indoor hospital bridge with a view of the street was a nice highlight of my day), and this allowed them to remove my chest tubes one by one until all three tubes had been removed. By exercising, I was also preparing to walk up the two flights of stairs to my apartment when I got home.
Looking at Dr. Chikwe’s work upon returning home from the hospital, I was immediately impressed by how carefully she had cut. It was as if an artist had operated on me. And I was home in just five days because robotic surgery is minimally invasive – and I put in the work to recover at a pace to be discharged fairly quickly. Since the sternum does not need to be cut and the ribs do not have to be spread, the smaller incisions make healing faster and the hospital stay shorter. Surgery was in the morning of the 26th, and I was home in the evening of the 30th. My wife was also part of my care team. For the first week at home, which was my second after surgery, my wife helped me to get in and out of bed. But by the third week post-surgery, my pain was much better and I was able to get in and out of bed on my own. One of my concerns prior to surgery had been that my wife and I want to have a baby. But by that third week, Vivian said that it was OK for my wife and I to try to start conceiving. And now I am happy to report that my wife and I are expecting a child! Amazingly, it appears that we did conceive about three weeks after the surgery!
As I think back to my mitral surgery with Dr. Chikwe several months later, I have many good memories of how Dr. Chikwe and her team helped me through what is a challenging experience for anyone. I keep recalling my post-operative meeting with Dr. Chikwe when she sat down and quietly studied an echocardiogram of my heart and chest on a video monitor. Dr. Chikwe keeps reaffirming my impression of her as an artist who pursues her work with consummate care for every cut, every stitch, and every result. As she looked up from the monitor after carefully assessing the outcome, Dr. Chikwe smiled softly at me and said, “you had a really great result.” As she said this, I felt touched by her care for me as a patient. Dr. Chikwe impresses me as a paragon of balances: of the knowledge of a scientist with the care of an artist; of consummate skill and no ego; of world class respect and complete accessibility to patients; of deep pride in her work — yet dignified humility in being absolutely certain that her patients are happy. And I am indeed a satisfied patient. I give Dr. Chikwe and her entire care team including Vivian and the nurses five out of five stars. Heart surgery is never fun for anyone. But if you do get the diagnosis, then Dr. Chikwe and her team are who you want to be with, and Cedars-Sinai is where you want to go."
-- Jonathan Orner, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 01/26/2022
She is so humble which was unexpected for a chief surgeon at Cedars-Sinai. She visited me every single day at the hospital and listened like my situation really mattered to her. She updated me on my progress and explained what to expect next. Her anesthesiology team, the lovely nurse practitioner, Vivian, all nurses and caregivers contributed to an experience that was beyond anything I had expected.
Dr. Chikwe calmed all my reservations and I am forever grateful."
-- Leila Saedi, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 11/18/2021
Under tough circumstances, it was a pleasure to work with Dr. Chikwe and her Physician's Assistant, Vivian Burkhart. From the start, my wife and I felt great confidence in Dr. Chikwe. That confidence was the product of her confidence, honesty, directness and humor.
During our consultation my wife and I had few questions. Dr. Chikwe asked a couple which focused our attention: "What were our key concerns?" and "What I did I hope to gain from the surgery?" The second question stumped me. I was completely asymptomatic and hoped only to maintain what I had. But, I saw her questions got to the essence of what was important.
The results have been remarkably excellent. As time goes by, I must remind myself how quickly I recovered. I need to check the App “Map My Walk” to confirm that within 3 weeks I was taking a 3-mile walk which included a significant hill. A couple of months after the surgery, after being cleared to enter the water, I returned to my regular swimming routine.
For others considering the surgery, I should add that post-surgery I felt discomfort but little pain. The biggest source of my discomfort was intense soreness in my back chest and shoulders. That lessened over time and disappeared in a few months.
I feel as well as any 69-year-old has the right to feel. For that I owe Dr. Chikwe much thanks."
-- Gary Reiss, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 09/08/2021
Dr. Chikwe and her team performed my robotic mitral valve repair surgery not only successfully but without any complications or even need for pain medications once discharged.
I chose Dr. Chikwe and traveled out-of-state for this procedure because of her vast successful experience and would absolutely recommend her to anyone in need of cardiac surgery."
-- Steve Rudack, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, Maze Procedure, 08/04/2021
I wished for a robotic repair so I could return to work and the gym quickly. I did not want a destabilized rib cage due to lifting weights in the gym. I scheduled a telemedicine second opinion with Dr. Chikwe hoping that she would offer me a robotic repair.
On the consultation day, my office internet went down for the first time in 18 years. I drove out 3 hours to meet Dr. Chikwe in person. When her nurse practitioner was walking me into the exam room, she said "Oh, there is Dr. Chikwe." I turned around to see Dr. Chikwe and I saw a white halo around her entire body. I had never seen a halo before.
Immediately, I felt calm and comfortable with my God-chosen surgeon. In the consultation, Dr. Chikwe said her passion was robotic mitral valve repair and it's 80 percent of what she does. She was humble, patient, and compassionate. She said she could repair my mitral valve, which had severely prolapsed P1 and P2 segments robotically.
I asked her if she was the best surgeon for my repair, which did not phase or affront her. She said there are about 6 people in the country that do a lot of robotic mitral valve repairs, including the surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic that I had my surgery scheduled with, and talked up each one. I was super impressed with her humility, not a trait I expected of a heart surgeon. She further informed me that I could not wait until my surgery date because I was symptomatic and needed to have my surgery sooner.
I asked her who would be performing my surgery since Cleveland Clinic uses fellows to open and close. She informed me that she put together a dream team that she works with and reassured me that she hand-picked everyone in the OR who works with her.
I scheduled my surgery with her but wanted my wife to be on-board with change of plans. When I told my wife that when I saw Dr. Chikwe for the first time, I saw a white halo around her... My wife shared that she has been praying for God to give us a sign for my surgeon. "
-- Vadim Gurvits, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 07/27/2021
-- Lorrie Wright, Mitral Valve, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, Maze Procedure, 07/27/2021
I had the privilege to meet Dr. Chikwe while avidly researching my condition and the best surgeon for it. I came across Dr Chikwe's writings on mitral valve disease and thought I would seek her expertise. I left a message for her in the hopes she could give me surgeon recommendations on the East Coast as I live in Florida and she was familiar with North East facilities.
That led to an hour long telehealth video call with her personally. By the end of the call, I felt I completely understood my condition and what I should expect of the impending surgery. I also knew Dr Chikwe was the only surgeon for me.
Any anxiety I or my family might have had of the long trip to California was subdued as we were reminded that this surgeon was so very qualified and the reason for the journey. My expectations were so exceeded by Dr. Chikwe, her team, and the hospital.
This lovely physician inspired such confidence in a "We've got this!" feeling. She is meticulous in her surgery and the pre-op and post-op treatment. The Cedars-Sinai cardiac unit has some of the most professional, knowledgeable and compassionate staff I have come across. They are the most hard working - from the ICU nurses to the nurse assistants on the cardiac ward.
I was discharged in four days, I am four weeks post-op, I have had no complications other than being sore as expected, and I know so much of it is attributed to the very skilled and caring Dr. Chikwe."
-- Wendy Spector, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 06/09/2021
-- Fatima Diop, Mitral Valve, Valve Replacement, Robotic Surgery, Maze Procedure, 05/19/2021
Dr. Chikwe has the rare ability to create a loving supportive atmosphere. She exudes enthusiasm for her work along with humility of her special skills. I sensed in speaking with her the enormous privilege she feels towards those of us who trust our hearts and lives to her skill. I have never felt such a sense of deep loving commitment toward me as a patient. Her team of doctors and nurses that took care of me in recovery were equally committed to the best care I could hope for and repeatedly expressed their admiration for her skills. With Dr. Chikwe you will always have the "A" team at your side."
-- Mark Kimball, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 04/28/2021
-- Robert Henner, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 04/28/2021
Dr. Chikwe is confident yet modest. She always made sure to credit her whole surgical team, never taking credit for her excellent surgical skills. She explained everything in detail at my consultation. From my initial consultation with her, until my post surgery appointment she always put me at ease and took the time to answer all my questions. She visited me everyday in the hospital and genuinely cared about my comfort and well being. I would highly recommend her! I also want to mention that her whole staff both in the office and at the hospital were very helpful. They made what could have been a difficult process, seamless. You are in excellent hands if you select Dr. Chikwe. My experience at Cedars Sinai was also a pleasant one. I am 3 weeks post surgery and am surprised what I am physically able to do given the nature of my surgery."
-- Sophie Arguello, Mitral Valve, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, Maze Procedure, 04/25/2021
As a retired Cedars-Sinai RN, I know that things do not always go smoothly and it is even more important to have a great team in place - just in case. And I was one of the fortunate ones. At the end of my repair I required a pacer. The hope was that in a few days the inflammation would subside and I would no longer be in heartblock. Dr Chikwe was there every morning and in consultation with the electronic cardiologist. On March 5th I received a temporary pacemaker and, because I was still in total heartblock, on March 8th I received a permanent pacemaker. I was home the next day.
In April, I had a relapse of my auto immune disease and was placed back on prednisone which caused my blood pressure to go up. So my blood pressure medication has been doubled. I feel terrific now. I'm exercising, gardening, back in classes and chorale. Visiting with friends, children and grandchildren has been wonderful. I'm so grateful to Dr. Chikwe and the entire team at Cedars- Sinai Medical Center for the comprehensive and coordinated care that I received - "just in case"."
-- Jo Friedman, Mitral Valve, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 03/02/2021
Dr. Chikwe masterfully navigated the surgery despite the challenges posed by my dad's bone structure and was able to successfully make the repair. Few doctors know how to perform the minimally-invasive robotic heart surgery, so we were very fortunate to have Dr. Chikwe, and to have her expertise regarding this surgery.
I cannot imagine having a better surgeon for my dad than Dr. Chikwe, she really prolonged his life with a fantastic surgery and we could not be more grateful. "
-- Marie Abajann, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, Maze Procedure, 01/13/2021
-- Reginald T. Dorsey, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 11/20/2020
I called her office and was scheduled for an immediate consultation a few days later at the Smidt Heart Institute with Dr. Joanna Chikwe, Asma Hussaini (DR Chikwe's P.A.) and Mary Alvarado, the Patient Service Representative. Upon arriving at the Heart Institute I was greeted by a caring and understanding staff who made me feel safe and comfortable while talking through my options.
Dr. Chikwe was confident that she could repair my mitral valve and a replacement would most likely not be necessary as my Cardiologist had told me. I was in the Hospital for emergency Mitral Valve Surgery within a few days. The entire Cedars-Sinai hospital staff made me feel very comfortable leading up to the surgery and in the days following the procedure. I was discharged from the hospital after a few days with minor discomfort and a new outlook and hope for my life.
It has been about 3 1/2 weeks since my surgery on 10/22/20 and I am feeling great! Recovery has been surprisingly easy due to the minimally invasive procedure, and I returned to work a few days ago. As I write this, my new heart is filled with gratitude and my eyes are filled with tears for the caring and very capable Dr. Chikwe and the entire staff at Cedars-Sinai for saving my life.
I hope that each and every person reading this, who must face this unsure and frightening challenge in their lives, can take some comfort in knowing that there are special people like Dr. Joanna Chikwe and her staff that are there for us in our biggest time of need."
-- Brandon Hammer, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 10/22/2020
Our prior research informed us that it is very important to choose a team with extensive valve repair experience, both for the surgeons and the technical support team. Drs. Chikwe and Trento are world class surgeons with extensive expertise in robotic repair of mitral valves and this team ranks as one of the best on the west coast.
Dr. Chikwe is a strong advocate for valve repair as opposed to replacement whenever possible as this leads to a more durable outcome. I came to surgery with significant regurgitation that was completely corrected by the robotic surgery. Dr. Chikwe explained the surgical outcome to my wife after the surgery in very clear terms.
I was impressed with her bed side manner and follow-up care of me. The nursing staff was exceptional in their kind care of me after surgery. I had very little pain afterwards and was up and walking the day after surgery. At two months after surgery, I was walking 10,000 steps per day. I would advise anyone needing mitral valve repair to consider Dr. Chikwe’s team for the surgery."
-- Richard Maki, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 03/19/2020
I was told she was an excellent surgeon and top in the field of micro-robotic mitral valve repair. I researched her background and found she was indeed one of the nation’s top surgeons. Her background, education and experience was remarkable and I felt lucky to have one of the best known cardiac surgeons.
Because of her notoriety, she could have been very egotistical like some of the doctors that I know, but she was so down to earth and more importantly very easy to talk to. She was informative but very personal. I was confident going into surgery knowing I had her as my surgeon.
After surgery, while I was in the hospital, Dr. Chikwe visited me every day and made me feel at ease showing interest in my recovery. Also, the nurses, staff, and Dr. Chikwe’s assistants were all very professional and cordial.
Anybody who is treated by Dr. Chikwe will be very lucky. Cedars-Sinai was very smart to recruit her from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York to head the Smidt Heart Institute. Thank you Dr. Chikwe."
-- Albert (Joey) Nakazawa, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 03/03/2020
My father was a brain surgeon and I had a checklist of things I admire in surgeons. Dr. Chikwe met all my criteria. First, what a pair of hands she has—long and lithe fingers in perfect shape, well suited for quick and careful suturing of vessels. But more importantly, she is confident yet modest with an exemplary sense of empathy.
Almost immediately upon meeting her she put me at ease and I never worried about the result—I had a full and quick recovery. I also appreciated her post-operative care and her frequent checks on me while I was in intensive care. I recommend her highly and can’t say enough about the high quality of the care I received as a result of her skill and under her supervision at Cedars Sinai."
-- Chris Fager, Aortic Valve, Valve Repair, Median Sternotomy, 01/15/2020
-- Patricia Reuter, Mitral Valve, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Repair, 05/14/2019
-- Robert Crowley, Pulmonary Valve, 11/13/2018
-- Maureen Ahad, Tricuspid Valve, Valve Repair, 05/14/2018
-- Arthur Hall, Aortic Valve, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 08/15/2017
-- Harry Vaughn, Aortic Valve, 10/06/2016
-- Arthur Lozeau, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, Maze Procedure, 09/07/2016
-- Anthony Bly, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 01/31/2015
-- Gavin Masterson, Aortic Valve, Valve Replacement, 07/23/2014
-- Nancy Cruz, Aortic Valve, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Valve Replacement, 09/14/2011
-- Bonnie Perman, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Mini-Thoracotomy / Port Access, 10/04/2010
My Specialities &
My heart surgery specialties include:
- Less invasive surgery, small incisions
- Mitral valve repair
- Coronary bypass grafting
In addition, I have research and clinical interests specific to:
- Mitral valve surgery
- Coronary revascularization
Education, Training & Certificates
Dr. Joanna Chikwe, heart surgeon, graduated from Oxford University in 1997.
After medical school, Dr. Chikwe completed a cardiothoracic surgery residency and fellowship training in the United Kingdom, where she was appointed a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 2006.
Upon moving to the United States, Dr. Chikwe began practicing cardiac surgery in the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, New York where she became a Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery.
In 2019, Dr. Chikwe was named the Founding Chair of Cardiac Surgery at Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.
Dr. Chikwe has contributed to over 100 research publications. Her interests include structural heart disease, coronary revascularization, quality improvements and comparative surgical outcomes.
with Dr. Joanna Chikwe, MD
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Chikwe, you can:
- Call (866) 345-1289 right now
- Request an appointment by clicking here.
The office of Dr. Chikwe is located at 8700 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048. To get driving directions to this office, please click the map below.
> Click for driving directions to Dr. Chikwe’s office.
Watch Educational Videos with Dr. Joanna Chikwe
Learn about heart valve surgery from Dr. Chikwe in these videos:
Life Expectancy & Heart Valve Surgery: Patient Insights with Dr. Joanna Chikwe
Mitral Valve Surgery: Advances in Minimally-Invasive & Transcatheter Procedures with Dr. Chikwe
Go Red for Women: Heart Valve Surgery From a Woman's Perspective (with Dr. Joanna Chikwe)
Pregnancy & Heart Valve Disease: What Should Patients Know?
Robotic Mitral Valve Repair Surgery: What Should Patients Know?
Patient Expectations After Heart Valve Surgery
Top 5 Complications After Heart Valve Surgery with Dr. Joanna Chikwe
Research Alert: Early Surgery for Asymptomatic Aortic Stenosis Patients
Mitral Valve Awareness: How Is Mitral Valve Disease Treated?
- > Watch More Videos
News & Online References Featuring Dr. Joanna Chikwe
Here is the latest news featuring Dr. Joanna Chikwe:
- Cedars-Sinai Names Dr. Joanna Chikwe Founding Chair of Cardiac Surgery
- Free eBook: Advances in COVID-19 & Heart Valve Therapy featuring Dr. Joanna Chikwe
- Mitral Valve Repair: Different Approaches for Different Patients
- Expert Surgeon Profile: Joanna Chikwe, MD, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California
- Surgeon Q&A: Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe for Heart Valve Patients?
- We "Go Red for Women" with Dr. Joanna Chikwe
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Page last updated: September 25, 2023