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Canadian robot knows the route to your heart

Steve Rogerson
September 26, 2017

A surgical robot is helping patients at the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) undergo mitral valve and coronary artery bypass cardiac surgery.
The da Vinci Xi is a surgical robot from California company Intuitive Surgical, and the first in Canada to be exclusively dedicated to cardiac surgery.
"The development of robotic cardiac surgery plays a major role in the expansion of minimally invasive surgery, whose purpose is to minimise the trauma endured by the body by reducing the incision size, for instance," according to the surgical team including Michel Pellerin and Denis Bouchard, the two cardiac surgeons who performed the first robotic mitral intervention last April. "This new technology will improve the patients' quality of life and allow for a faster return to daily activity, among other benefits,"
The mitral valve repair programme was first initiated at the institute in 1995; back then, the programme used the more conventional approach of median sternotomy. More than 2500 cases were performed using that approach. In 2006, this programme evolved to become minimally invasive surgery, where a small incision on the right side of the thorax is performed. Approximately 900 surgeries were performed using this approach.
Today, in 2017, the evolution of the mitral valve repair programme is intrinsically connected to robotic surgery, the ultimate step.
"We need to keep in mind that robotic surgery is an evolving field; the acquisition of this robot will allow us to remain at the spearhead of this type of cardiac surgery," said Mélanie La Couture, MHI chief executive officer.
The surgical robotic equipment consists of three main components: a robot, acting as remote manipulator; a control console, used by the surgeon; and an endoscopic vision cart, allowing for 3D visualisation.
"With this highly sophisticated new technology, our surgeons can now rely on better-performing instruments to have more precise hand gestures and an enhanced view thanks to 3D visualisation," said Louis Perrault, a doctor at MHI. “Since the surgeon is in permanent control of the robot, this is robot-assisted cardiac surgery.”
The acquisition of this robot was made possible thanks to the donors of the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation.
Founded in 1954 by Paul David, the MHI is part of a broad network of health bodies made up of the Université de Montréal and its affiliated institutions.