Sep. 8, 1999 COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A new minimally invasive heart surgery technique utilizing robotic technology was performed today at The Ohio State University Medical Center. It was the first use in North America of the da Vinci Computer-Enhanced Surgical System which uses sensitive remote-controlled surgical instruments guided by a surgeon at a computer keyboard.
The surgery was successful and the 48-year-old patient from Columbus is in good condition following the heart bypass procedure.
Dr. Robert Michler, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at University Medical Center, said the ground-breaking procedure went very smoothly.
"The entire operation went very well from start to finish," said Michler, who along with surgical team members Drs. David Brown and Randall Wolf, has been in training to use the new technology for several months.
"The robotic system allowed us to operate with truly amazing ease and precision," said Michler. "I see this technology as a breakthrough for medicine in that it will allow surgeons to perform operations using incisions in the chest wall that are much smaller than those normally required," he added.
The da Vinci system involves using a tiny camera with multiple lenses inserted into the patient's chest, providing a three-dimensional image of the heart. The surgeon, at a nearby computer workstation, watches through a viewport to see inside the chest as a pair of joysticks are manipulated to control two precisely-engineered robotic arms. The arms hold specially designed surgical instruments that mimic the actual movement of the surgeon's hands on the joysticks.
Using the robotic technology, only three holes - each about the diameter of a pencil - are needed to complete the surgery.
"The visualization of the surgical area is tremendous with very good clarity and magnification," said Michler. "The hand controls are also very precise with every movement being exactly replicated by the robotic arms."
Wolf recently joined the Ohio State cardiothoracic surgery team. He completed several of the first robotic cardiac surgical procedures in Europe and has trained surgeons there in the use of the da Vinci technology.
"The new technology will result in less post-operative pain and faster recovery times for patients," said Wolf. "We could eventually see patients return to work and full activity within two weeks following the procedure," he added. Generally, following traditional surgical procedures that require larger incisions, patients must fully recover for several weeks before resuming normal activities.
Brown said he envisions the robotic technology becoming the standard for performing many other surgical procedures, in nearly all fields of medicine. "This type of surgical instrument is going to be with us for years to come and it's very exciting to take a leadership role in its design and application," he said.
Ohio State and the University of Leipzig in Germany are the only two sites in the world studying the advanced robotics system developed by California-based Intuitive Surgical. "Ohio State is certainly in the forefront with this technology and this benefits our patients who have ready access to the latest medical developments," Michler added.
More heart surgeries will be conducted at University Medical Center using the da Vinci system as part of a national study that is required by the Food and Drug Administration before the surgery can be performed more routinely. More than 100 procedures utilizing the technology have been successfully conducted in Europe during the past several months.
Michler said there are many patients expressing interest in the benefits of the new robotic technology. Patients are currently being enrolled in the study at University Medical Center. Patients wanting additional information on the study or wish to be considered for enrollment should call 614-293-7615, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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