Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Robotics Go Where No Surgeon Has Gone Before

November 15, 1999
American Heart Association
It's not yet the stuff of "Star Wars," but in early testing, a new technique that uses robotic arms to perform coronary artery bypass surgery is proving safe and appears to be effective, according to researchers at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.

ATLANTA, Nov. 10 -- It's not yet the stuff of "Star Wars," but in early testing, a new technique that uses robotic arms to perform coronary artery bypass surgery is proving safe and appears to be effective, according to researchers at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.

Related Articles

The aim of the research is to create a safe, less invasive means of performing coronary bypass surgery, a lifesaving procedure in which blood vessels from the calf or chest are used to route or "bypass" blood around blocked sections of heart arteries. In traditional bypass surgery, the chest cavity is cut open and the bones are "spread," requiring a fairly lengthy and often painful recuperation for patients. The robotics bypass surgery leaves the patient with only a tiny scar, and a much faster and less painful recovery time.

Robotic bypass surgery will likely become available to a select group of heart patients in the near future. However, it will be several years before the technology will be available for large numbers of patients, says Ralph J. Damiano Jr., M.D., professor of surgery and chief of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery at Hershey Medical Center, Penn State University.

Damiano and his colleagues tested the robotic procedure on six men and four women with an average age of 56. In each patient, the robotic operation consisted of freeing a large vessel from the chest wall and sewing it into the left anterior descending coronary artery, the major vessel feeding blood to the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber.

Five additional patients have since been operated on using the robotic system and none have suffered any complications as a result.

"This type of surgery will have a revolutionary impact, not only on heart surgery, but on many types of procedures," Damiano predicts.

"Once the robotic system becomes more cost effective, there is very little reason why you would not want to use it whenever possible. It enhances a physician's dexterity," he says.

"We had no robotic-related complications in any of the patients," says Damiano. "The procedures were done in a reasonable amount of time and all of the vessels were still open six months later," Damiano says. "That is very encouraging." The approach being developed by Damiano and his colleagues is a form of endoscopic surgery that uses a small tubelike instrument. One form, arthroscopy, has been used for joint-replacement surgeries, primarily for the knees, since the 1970s. Another form of endoscopic surgery called laparoscopy is used for abdominal surgeries, such as gallbladder removal. Until recently, however, researchers have not been able to use the endoscopic technique for open heart surgery.

"Anytime you use a long instrument, which is required for microsurgery, you magnify even the smallest tremor. No one has been able to do an endoscopic coronary bypass by hand, although researchers have attempted it in animals for the last five or six years with little success," says Damiano. Another problem is that in traditional endoscopic surgery, someone must hold the camera-light assembly. "That's fine for looking at a wide field, but if you focus in on a small area, even a slight motion by the person holding the light will be distracting," Damiano says.

"The key findings in our study are that robotic bypass is safe and that it appears that this technology should let us perform coronary bypass surgery without a major incision," Damiano says. "We are trying to minimize the surgery by using three pencil-size holes in the chest wall. That alone would offer a major benefit in terms of reduced pain and faster recovery time, which would allow patients to return to their jobs more quickly."

Because their research was a Phase I clinical trial -- a preliminary study aimed at showing the operation is safe -- the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed the Penn State team to operate on only one clogged artery in each bypass patient using its robotic system. The other vessels were treated by the traditional method. The heart surgery patients in the study had anywhere from one to four heart arteries that were blocked by a buildup of cholesterol deposits. Over time, the deposits can totally block blood flow to the heart, triggering a heart attack.

The robotic surgery required making three small holes in the chest. Endoscopic surgery uses two surgical instruments and a tiny camera-and-light combination, each of which is inserted into the body through a separate incision. The instruments are rigid and may range from 3 to 16 inches in length. In the Penn State procedure, a separate robotic arm holds each of the two instruments and camera-light assembly. The surgeon sits at a console about 10 feet from the operating table. Using handles shaped like those on traditional microsurgical instruments, the surgeon maneuvers them as if operating directly on the patient.

The surgeon's motions are relayed to a computer which digitizes them. The computer uses this information to direct two robotic arms, which are attached to the operating room table. These arms hold the instrument tips that replicate the precise maneuvers of the surgeon. "The computer takes your motion and makes it very, very smooth," Damiano explains. "Then it takes this digitized motion and uses it to drive the robotic arms."

The camera assembly is controlled through the computer by the surgeon's voice. "The camera is much steadier and that improves visualization," he adds. Co-authors are Walter J. Ehrman, M.D.; Harold A. Tabaie, M.D.; Christopher T. Ducko, M.D.; Edward R. Stephenson, Jr., M.D.; and Charles P. Kingsley, M.D.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Heart Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

American Heart Association. "Robotics Go Where No Surgeon Has Gone Before." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 November 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991115065918.htm>.
American Heart Association. (1999, November 15). Robotics Go Where No Surgeon Has Gone Before. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991115065918.htm
American Heart Association. "Robotics Go Where No Surgeon Has Gone Before." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991115065918.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

AFP (Jan. 25, 2015) The World Health Organization&apos;s chief on Sunday admitted the UN agency had been caught napping on Ebola, saying it should serve a lesson to avoid similar mistakes in future. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disneyland Measles Outbreak Spreads To 5 States

Disneyland Measles Outbreak Spreads To 5 States

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) Much of the Disneyland measles outbreak is being blamed on the anti-vaccination movement. The CDC encourages just about everyone get immunized. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Growing Measles Outbreak Worries Calif. Parents

Growing Measles Outbreak Worries Calif. Parents

AP (Jan. 23, 2015) Public health officials are rushing to contain a measles outbreak that has sickened 70 people across 6 states and Mexico. The AP&apos;s Raquel Maria Dillon has more. (Jan. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins