Updated 02/22/2011 11:53 AM
Health Works: Robot helps surgeons with common procedure
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The future of heart bypass surgery may be happening now and one Austin doctor has already seen how it works.
With the help of a robotic machine called the da Vinci Surgical System, Dr. Eric Hoenicke, was able to perform his first heart surgery away from the patient.
"I think it's eventually going to cause a paradigm shift in the way cardio-thoracic surgery is done," Dr. Hoenicke said.
The machine allows doctors to operate a set of robotic hands using sensitive, motion-scaled controls from a console anywhere in the room. The robot’s arms are controlled by the doctor and can rotate at angles that the human wrist cannot.
"It allows you to do a better job with the operation. That is, you can see better. It's almost as if you've shrunken yourself down and put yourself in someone's chest," Dr. Hoenicke said. "You really have amazing control of these instruments and you can see really well."
He said the patient benefits are even better.
"The biggest advantage of this approach is the use of smaller incisions and this allows patients to get back to their daily tasks much sooner, whether it's work, heavy lifting or whatnot."
Hoenicke said the multi-million dollar price attached to the da Vinci robot pays for itself.
"From our standpoint, the robotic standpoint costs no more, and for the patient it may cost less because you're hopefully going home sooner from the hospital," he said.
It’s a situation that has the potential to be a win-win for doctors and patients in Central Texas.
"It's new for the area. It's very exciting and I think it's going to impact a lot of patients in this area and even Texas," Hoenicke said.
For information on the da Vinci Surgical System, visit the Intuitive Surgical company's website.