Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Robot-Assisted Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery (CABG)

Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) is performed to restore blood flow to your heart by bypassing coronary (heart) arteries that have been narrowed or blocked by the build-up of plaque. When plaque loosens and breaks off, a blood clot forms, which can block blood flow to your heart, resulting in chest pain or heart attack. In CABG, a surgeon reroutes blood around the blocked or narrowed portion of a coronary artery or arteries using a piece of an artery or vein from another part of your body.

The Boston Medical Center Cardiac Surgery program is helping to pioneer minimally invasive CABG procedures like robot-assisted CABG (RA-CAB). Unlike traditional bypass surgery, where the chest is cut open at the breastbone and the ribs spread to expose the heart, RA-CAB is a minimally invasive procedure in which the surgeon makes several tiny incisions between the ribs then inserts small robotic arms and a small camera through the incisions. In addition, special tools allow the surgeon to stabilize the portion of the heart that must be worked on, allowing the heart to continue beating throughout the procedure.

The surgeon sits at a computer console and the camera provides a three-dimensional view of the heart that is magnified ten greater than a person's normal vision. The surgeon's hands control the robotic arms to perform the procedure. The robotic arms have greater range of motion than human hands. They also translate the surgeon's larger hand movements into smaller, more precise movements.
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This is a wonderful development because the doctors don't need to crack the chest. - Bill