Heart surgery by robot – a world’s first
World-leading heart surgery has been carried out at a Leicester hospital in the UK, by surgeons using a remote-controlled robot arm. Because X-rays are used to allow the doctor to monitor what is going on inside the patient, it means that doctors standing close to the patient wear radiation shields such as lead aprons which are burdensome. Long procedures can lead to fatigue in the staff and high cumulative radiation exposure. Through the use of a robotic arm, surgeons can remain in an adjacent room.
The procedure involved inserting catheters into the heart chambers through blood vessels at the top of the groin. The catheters have electrodes attached to them which are used to identify abnormalities in the heart’s natural electrical transmission system, usually the cause of heart rhythm problems. The catheters were then used to burn, the abnormal area, curing the problem.
The department at Glenfield Hospital performs more than 600 of the catheter procedures each year, although this is the first to use a robotic arm. The Remote Catheter Manipulation System, from Catheter Robotics Inc of New Jersey, US, has been in development for four years. The Leicester team is the first in the world to use it in human patients.