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Barts Heart Centre performs its first robotic keyhole operation on beating heart

Specialist surgeons at Barts Heart Centre in London have performed a coronary artery bypass on a beating heart via robotic keyhole surgery for the first time.

Made possible using highly-sophisticated robot named the Da Vinci, the technology, which is funded by the Barts Charity, removes the need for open heart surgery. It therefore reduces the size of the would and subsequent recovery time.

The robot translates the surgeon’s hand movements in real time to four mechanical arms, which have a greater range of motion and precision. 3D images are beamed back to the surgeon via a high-definition screen.

A multidisciplinary team of surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and perfusionists visited specialist centres across Europe to complete in-depth training before carrying out the heart surgery.

Commenting on the procedure, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon Dincer Aktuerk said: ‘Conventional coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is still an excellent operation, however in selected patients a less invasive approach may be suitable. Where it would typically take patients several weeks to recover from a CABG, now, with robotic heart surgery of this kind, they are back to their old selves in days.

‘We are able to send patients home sooner, there is reduced pain and discomfort, faster recovery and much higher levels of patient satisfaction.

‘This is a major milestone for our hospital and for the UK as a whole. I would like to thank the entire team involved in this ground-breaking surgery.’

One of the first patients to undergo the heart surgery, 54-year-old Kemal said: ‘I was worried about the recovery time but two weeks after my operation, I am feeling good. I am now back on my feet and able to take short walks to the shop.

‘I want to give myself time before returning to work but I am pleased with my progress and feel very lucky to have had this kind of operation.’

The Barts Heart Centre at St Bartholomew’s Hospital is one of only two centres in the UK to offer robot-assisted heart surgery of this kind, and the only one in London. The robot at this hospital was the first in the UK to be dedicated to cardiothoracic cases.