Robots in the Operating Room

Doctors' use of camera-guided system in surgery benefits young heart patients

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 28, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Robot-assisted surgery on children with heart defects reduces trauma and scarring, speeds recovery and shortens hospital stays compared to traditional surgery.

That's the good news University of Michigan researchers presented Jan. 28 at the annual meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons in San Antonio.

While the robot-assisted surgery lengthened operation time by just over half an hour, the researchers say their findings suggest the minimally invasive techniques that can be done with the surgeon-controlled, camera-guided robot system offer the same results as open-chest surgery, with less impact on the child's body.

The results demonstrate that robot-assisted surgery may be a good option for surgery to correct certain heart defects in children, the researchers say.

"Robot-assisted surgery has already shown quite a bit of promise in the adult population, including adults who have congenital heart anomalies. But we feel from our experience that it can be used on many pediatric patients weighing more than 10 kilograms, and can reduce hospital stays, operative trauma, cosmetic impact and overall recovery time. And we found it does so with an acceptable impact on a patient's time in the OR," researcher and surgeon Dr. Richard Ohye says in a prepared statement.

This method is more costly than traditional surgery due to the added expense of extra operating room time and the robot itself. But Ohye says robot-assisted surgery more than offsets such initial costs over time because it reduces time spent in the hospital after surgery, complications during recovery, and the time a child's parents have to spend away from work.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about robot-assisted surgery.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, Jan. 27, 2004
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