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...

57 Patient Reviews for
Dr. Chikwe

"I am so thankful that my surgery was done by Dr. Chikwe and her team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

MY CASE WAS COMPLEX: I had a particularly challenging case. Not only was I diagnosed with severe mitral valve regurgitation due to severe P3 and P2 prolapse, but my tests revealed significant Mitral Annular Calcification (MAC) around the mitral valve. I learned that calcium makes it very difficult to fix the mitral valve. Attempting to remove the calcium can be dangerous, potentially causing a stroke or worse during surgery.

THREE DISCOURAGING EVALUATIONS PRIOR TO MY CONSULT WITH DR. CHIKWE: I was told by two well-known surgeons that my mitral valve could not be repaired due to the MAC, and a third said that a repair would only reduce my severe regurgitation to somewhere between mild-moderate – an outcome I viewed as unacceptable. After three consults, I was discouraged beyond words, until I spoke with Dr. Joanna Chikwe, Chair of Cardiac Surgery at Cedars-Sinai.

MY STORY IN ADAM’S BLOG: My story of the hopeful consult I had with Dr. Chikwe, why I am so thankful she was willing to take my complex case, and the successful mitral valve repair she and her team performed, can be found in Adam’s Blog here (you’ll need to copy & paste the following into your browser): https://www.heart-valve-surgery.com/heart-surgery-blog/2024/04/22/robotic-patient-success-story/

The following explains why Dr. Chikwe and her team are exceptional:

SAFETY FIRST: There are many videos about Dr. Chikwe and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center online, like the ones at HeartValveSurgery.com. One in particular that gave me great confidence in her and her team is a speech she gave at the 2023 Cardiothoracic Surgery Symposium https://youtu.be/gjh5mSIntgY. Although it is intended for an audience of cardiac surgeons, it conveys a deep understanding of the critical factors that are essential for safe surgeries.

During my initial consult with Dr. Chikwe, she said she was “reasonably confident, but not certain” due to the calcium, that a robotic repair could be achieved, and that based on my test results, a robotic approach should be reasonably safe for me. As she explained her thoughts about my case and her suggested approach, she was extremely compassionate and honest about the risks involved, and her emphasis was always on safety, first and foremost.

FLEXIBILITY TO CHANGE COURSE BASED ON WHAT SHE LEARNS DURING SURGERY: All of the surgeons I spoke with prior to Dr. Chikwe were adamant about a specific surgical plan, ranging from replacing my mitral valve via a sternotomy to doing an “imperfect” repair. Dr. Chikwe was the only one who expressed flexibility to change her approach based on what she learns during surgery. She said if she could not reduce the leak to mild, or if there were signs that the repair would not be durable (long-lasting), she would make a decision during surgery to replace the mitral valve. That flexibility is what set her apart from the other surgical consults, and is one of the primary reasons I wanted to be under her care. Of the four consults I had, Dr. Chikwe and her team was the only one I was willing to trust my life with.

REDUNDANCY IN THE OPERATING ROOM: Dr. Chikwe had a top-notch team with her in the operating room. She was assisted by Dr. Dominic Emerson, Director of Robotic Surgery, pursuant to their policy of having two attending surgeons scrubbed for robotic cases. Dr. Chikwe was my lead surgeon, but I believe Dr. Emerson was eminently qualified to have been the lead as well. After surgery, I woke up to learn that the first attempt to repair my mitral valve was suboptimal, resulting in greater than mild regurgitation. There was a discussion amongst the team in the operating room about replacing the valve, and a decision was made to try one more time to enhance the repair. THANK GOODNESS FOR THE REDUNDANCY ON MY SURGICAL TEAM. Without multiple qualified surgeons in the operating room, such a discussion would not have been possible, and a decision to try for a second attempt at a repair may not have been made. The second attempt was successful, resulting in better than mild regurgitation (some said it was “very little leak,” or “trace-mild”), which is better than what I had hoped for. My surgery was performed robotically, without the need for a sternotomy. They gave me a successful repair without touching the calcium, keeping safety foremost in their minds. SIGNIFICANT EXPERIENCE: Dr. Chikwe’s team has substantial experience in two areas that were critical for me: (1) Experience doing safe robotic surgeries. Not all heart surgeons are experienced enough with the robot to perform it safely, and in my case, I had two experts in the operating room. (2) Experience doing mitral valve repair in the presence of calcium. Calcium increases the complexity of any mitral valve repair or replacement. I knew that having a team experienced with MAC was critical to a successful outcome.

Each individual on Dr. Chikwe’s team has significant experience, and they also have experience working together as a team. It was worth it to me to travel 2,000 miles to have my surgery done by two of the best surgeons, with an outstanding team, at one of the best centers of excellence in the country.

OUTSTANDING CARE AFTER SURGERY: The care I received in ICU and in my regular room was absolutely outstanding in every respect. Dr. Chikwe came to see me in ICU and every day after that. I was also able to speak with Dr. Emerson and some of the other people who were on the team in the operating room. Everyone, surgeons, nurses, nursing aids, etc. were so compassionate, caring, and respectful.

EFFICIENCY AT EVERY STEP: My interactions with Dr. Chikwe’s team were extremely positive every step of the way. There are too many people to name individually, but they were all experienced professionals and made me feel like they truly cared about me.

Every case is different and demands an individual evaluation and surgical plan. Dr. Chikwe involved my husband and me in all of the key decisions. She made me feel like I was her most important patient. If anyone I love ever needs heart surgery, I would recommend Dr. Chikwe and her team at Cedars-Sinai without hesitation."

-- Lynn Friedman, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, Robotic Surgery, 03/19/2024

"I can’t imagine allowing any other surgeon to operate on my heart than Dr. Chikwe. I understand she does this everyday, but it was a super scary season for our small family. As a 35-year-old mom of a 3-year-old, we felt “in over our heads”.

But, Dr Chikwe and her INCREDIBLE NURSE PRACTITIONER, Vivian walked us through the process amazingly. Not only is she an INCREDIBLE surgeon, she is so considerate and kind.

On the day of my surgery, Dr. Chikwe could tell how scared I was before they rolled me back so she hugged me and even held my hand. She may not even remember it, but I’ll never forget. I can only imagine how many hurdles she has had to climb over to be in the position she is at Cedars Sinai, and as a woman, but wow is she deserving of it!!!

She was so confident she made us feel confident. And, while another nurse practitioner for different surgeon asked what type of valve I would want if he couldn’t do a repair and needed to replace it, neither Dr. Chikwe nor her team ever asked. They were so confident it would be a simple repair that will probably last my lifetime, they almost laughed when I asked. Politely, of course!!

For someone facing a potential replacement valve with pig tissue (that expires every 10 years) or the required blood thinner for the rest of their lives (with a mechanical option)… I sincerely pray they find Dr. Chikwe. I felt like God led us to her. And I will be forever grateful!!!!! HUGE thanks to their team. I don’t care where you have to travel from… When it was me, I called her office. This is a suuuuper scary season in your life. And I’m so sorry for that. Whether it’s for you or your loved one, it affects the ENTIRE family. So, please know that I see you.

From my experience, I can’t imagine anyone else doing this. It saved my life. "

-- Rachel McCord, Mitral Valve, Valve Repair, 03/14/2024

> See 55 more patient testimonials

My Specialities &
Clinical Interests

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
  • Frailty
  • 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.

Schedule Appointment
with Dr. Joanna Chikwe, MD

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Chikwe, you can:

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?
  • Surgeon Q&A: Valve-Sparing Compared to Aortic Valve Repair
  • > Watch More Videos

Page last updated: June 5, 2024

Dr. Joanna Chikwe
(866) 345-1289