October 06, 1999

Nancy Lawrence
Media Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 77642

London Health Sciences Centre achieves world's first closed-chest, beating heart, robotic-assisted single cardiac bypass surgery

(LONDON, Ontario) London Health Sciences Centre is excited to announce that a team of specialists, led by cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Douglas Boyd, has successfully performed the world's first closed-chest, robotic-assisted beating heart coronary artery bypass graft (CABG). The patient, Mr. John Penner, of Seaforth, Ontario, underwent the surgery on Friday, Sept. 24, 1999 and was ready to be discharged home a mere four days later. This minimally-invasive procedure, also known as endoscopic, means the bypass surgery is performed on the beating heart through three pencil sized incisions and a small working incision through which the heart is stabilized. The patient does not require the use of a heart-lung machine since the heart continues to beat during surgery. This contrasts with traditional bypass surgery where the chest cavity is opened through a 12-15 inch incision, the patient is placed on a heart-lung machine, and the heart is stopped until completion of the procedure.

"We believe this accomplishment has the potential to revolutionize the delivery of cardiac bypass surgery in this country and beyond. It is our hope that it will become the standard of care for our patients at London Health Sciences Centre and others across North America," says Dr. Boyd.

"Ultimately, procedures such as this will benefit patients who will experience less pain and trauma, make a quicker recovery, and be able to enjoy an improved quality of life," says President and CEO, Tony Dagnone.

Mr. Penner, the patient who underwent this procedure, is now enjoying life back on his dairy farm and is pleased with his recovery so far.

"I admit I was a little scared about having a robot involved in my operation, but I trust these doctors and had confidence in them. I knew that what was being done was exciting and that it would be a world-first. I guess I'm a part of that medical history now too," says Mr. Penner.

"London Health Sciences Centre is a world-leader in robotic-assisted surgery and other minimally-invasive surgical procedures," says President & CEO, Tony Dagnone. "We are tremendously proud of this team of specialists who have devoted themselves to accomplishing this goal. It is a remarkable, and incredibly significant, achievement."

"Dr. Boyd and his innovative team from London are to be congratulated for their accomplishment and early success with robot-assisted cardiac surgery. Their important clinical contribution to the advancement of computer-assisted surgery reinforces our favourable preliminary robotic experience at Penn State and appears to solidify the place of robotics as a critical enabling technology in this new era of truly minimally invasive cardiac surgery. This technology not only has the capacity to improve our ability to do conventional procedures, but in the future will likely allow us to perform new procedures that are now considered beyond the realm of human manual dexterity," says Dr. Ralph Damiano, Professor and Chief, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Penn State.

London Health Sciences Centre, one of Canada's largest cardiac programs, performs approximately 1700 single cardiac bypass procedures each year. It is estimated that eventually up to 25% would be candidates for the closed-chest, robotic-assisted, beating heart bypass procedure. Due to the decreased length of stay in hospital, this procedure could potentially enable us to improve access for our patients. The surgery was made possible by the Zeus Robotic Surgical System, developed by ComputerMotion in Santa Barbara, California.

The Zeus robotic system was purchased with private funds made available by Richard and Beryl Ivey. The robotic equipment purchase is part of a larger initiative to create a comprehensive heart centre at the University Campus of the London Health Sciences Centre. Details of this medical initiative and major gift by Richard and Beryl Ivey and the Richard Ivey Foundation will be announced on October 27, 1999.

"The Ivey's have been tremendous supporters of innovative and progressive medical care, and on behalf of the countless patients who will benefit from this technology and this procedure in the years to come, we sincerely thank them for their caring and generosity," says Mr. Dagnone. Once again, they have demonstrated unprecedented support to advance Ontario's heart care program."

"London Health Sciences Centre is committed to advancing robotic-assisted cardiac surgery as, we believe, it is in the best interests of our patients, will improve outcomes, and it will allow people to attain an improved quality of life," adds Mr. Dagnone.