April 14, 2005-Norfolk, VA - A revolutionary new advancement in cardiac surgery has arrived at Sentara. Cardiothoracic surgeons at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital are the first and only ones in the region now using a four-armed robot, the da Vinci Surgical System, to provide minimally invasive treatment to heart patients in need of heart surgery. Sitting across the operating room from the patient at a special console, surgeons are using the extraordinary precision of da Vincis robotic arms to perform intricate surgical moves not even possible by a surgeons own hands.
"Robotic-assisted surgery is revolutionizing the way cardiac surgery is performed," says Robert C. Hagberg, M.D., Sentara cardiothoracic surgeon. "This equipment provides us with increased precision and accuracy as well as 3-D imaging when performing minimally invasive cardiac surgical procedures. Ultimately, this will mean improved outcomes for our cardiac patients."
The da Vinci Surgical System by Intuitive Surgical first used by Sentara in September 2004 for prostate removal surgery allows complex, cardiac surgical procedures to be performed through small incisions, allowing heart patients to reap the rewards of minimally invasive surgery. The robotic arms are literally an extension of the doctors and are able to make incisions and other surgical moves that at times are at angles not possible by a human hand. Benefits to patients may include: reduced trauma to the body, less blood loss, less post-operative pain, fewer complications, a reduced hospital stay and faster recovery times.
"Minimally invasive heart surgery is still an evolving field and its clear that robotic technology will hasten that revolution, " says Kirk J. Fleischer, M.D., Sentara cardiothoracic surgeon. "This technology is like nothing weve seen before. With each coronary artery bypass surgery performed with da Vinci, we move one step closer to being able to perform this delicate procedure in an entirely minimally-invasive manner."
In addition to doing coronary bypass grafting procedures, the da Vinc system at Sentara is now being used successfully for left ventricular lead placement for bi-ventricular pacing, which traditionally has proven difficult because of widespread differences in patient anatomy. Sentara also plans to use da Vinc to assist with mitral valve repair in the near future.