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Robotic surgery for young heart patients shortens hospital stay and speeds recovery, study indicates

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- In the first-ever direct comparison of robot-assisted and traditional surgery for children's heart defects, University of Michigan surgeons report that the robot's help reduces patients' recuperation time and surgery-related trauma and scarring, while extending the length of the operation by just over half an hour.

Their finding suggests that the minimally invasive surgical techniques made possible by the surgeon-controlled, camera-guided robot system can give the same surgical result as open-chest techniques, with less impact on the young patient's body.

And although the study group was small, the finding demonstrates that robot-assisted surgery may be a good option for certain defects.

U-M Congenital Heart Center pediatric heart surgeons will present their results here on Jan. 28 at the annual meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, as part of a workshop for other surgeons on robot-assisted options for young heart patients.

Says surgeon Richard Ohye, M.D., "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."

Despite the added expense of operating room time and the robot itself, Ohye feels that the machine will more than offset its costs over time by reducing the time a child spends in the hospital after surgery, the complications he or she will face during recovery, and his or her parents' time away from work.

Ohye and U-M pediatric cardiac surgery colleagues Edward Bove, M.D. and Eric Devaney, M.D. performed the robot-assisted and open surgeries compared in the report. Ohye and Devaney began using the robot at the U
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Contact: Kara Gavin
kegavin@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
28-Jan-2004


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