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November 27, 2003

Debbie Neufert
Media Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 74772

New robot and tools to revolutionize cardiac bypass surgery
Canadian first at London Health Sciences Centre

(LONDON, Ontario) Doctors at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) are the first in Canada to use cutting edge robotic technology and new surgical tools that show promise to revolutionize cardiac bypass surgery.

LHSC surgeons are the first in Canada to use Intuitive Surgical's four-armed da Vinci robot, only one of 11 in the world, for cardiac surgery. The robot, combined with the use of Medtronic's innovative Starfish NS Heart Positioner and the Octopus TE Heart Stabilizer in the operating room, is expected to pave the way for more patients to have minimally invasive bypass surgery.

Currently, LHSC surgeons are using this new technology for single coronary artery bypass procedures only. However, they are optimistic that in the near future it will enable surgeons to also use a minimally invasive approach for multiple bypass surgeries instead of traditional open-heart surgery.

This latest technology also represents another advance in "off-pump" surgery, which means the patient is not put on the heart-lung machine, as in open-heart surgery, because the surgery is done on a beating heart.

The four-armed da Vinci robot is used to retrieve the internal mammary artery (IMA) in the chest wall, which is the conduit for bypassing the blocked artery.

The Starfish NS Heart Positioner and Octopus TE Heart Stabilizer are then inserted through small ports or openings about three-inches in diameter in the chest. These tools use suction-cup like devices to gently move, hold and stabilize the heart for anastomosis, which is bypassing the blocked artery and suturing or sewing the new artery to restore blood flow to the heart.

"The Starfish NS and Octopus TE allow for better stabilization which is vital to do the bypass," says Dr. Alan Menkis, LHSC cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon. Menkis adds, "These new tools also allow us to move and hold the heart in different positions, which provides greater access to other arteries. As a result, we believe this will enable us to soon perform multiple bypass surgery in a minimally-invasive approach instead of conventional open-heart surgery, and that is great news for patients."

"The four-armed da Vinci robot provides a surgeon with the greatest dexterity to date in surgical robotics, along with better visualization through three dimensional imaging, and that will allow us to chart many new horizons in minimally invasive surgery," says Dr. Bob Kiaii, LHSC cardiac surgeon, and scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute.

Minimally invasive surgery, including robotic surgery, benefits the patient in many ways, including reduced trauma to the body, less post-operative pain, a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery.

This is the latest advance in clinical research at CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics). The Robotic Assisted Interventional Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery research project is one of six current research projects at CSTAR.

Research at CSTAR is supported by grants from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Innovation Trust, and the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund.

CSTAR is a collaborative research program of London Health Sciences Centre and the Lawson Health Research Institute, and is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario. CSTAR occupies the top two levels of the new Legacy Research Pavilion at the University Campus of London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario.

Visit CSTAR's Web site at: http://www.c-star.ca