During aortic valve bypass surgery, attachment of the valve-containing tube to the major blood vessel in the back of the chest traditionally required a medium-sized incision to allow the surgeon to sew the tube to the aorta. The University of Maryland Medical Center, a leader in robotic heart surgery, is now using this surgical system to further advance the benefits of aortic valve bypass surgery, ensuring a smaller incision and faster recovery time for patients.
Dr. James Gammie leveraged the experience of a renowned cardiac surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center considered a pioneer in robot-assisted heart surgery, and his team by asking him to participate in a robot-assisted minimally invasive aortic valve bypass procedure.
The patient was an 83-year-old man who had undergone previous heart surgery and had several medical problems that would have made a conventional aortic valve replacement particularly risky.
Instead, Dr. Gammie and the surgeon used the robot to perform the attachment deep in the chest, allowing them to perform the aortic valve bypass operation through a small, three-inch incision than would have been impossible without the robot.
Within hours after the robot-assisted aortic valve bypass operation, the man was awake and talking with his family. He left the hospital one week after surgery with his breathing much improved.
"I believe that robotically-assisted minimally invasive aortic valve bypass surgery is an excellent alternative for higher-risk patients with aortic stenosis," says Dr. Gammie, who has worked to understand and perfect this approach. "It allows us to treat a common, life-threatening condition without a breastbone-splitting incision and without the need for stopping the heart or using the heart-lung machine."
Other important benefits experienced by surgeons using the robotic surgical system over traditional approaches include greater surgical precision, increased range of motion, improved dexterity, enhanced visualization and improved access. Additional benefits experienced by patients include a shorter hospital stay, less pain, less risk of infection, less blood loss, fewer transfusions, less scarring, faster recovery and a quicker return to normal daily activities.