BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Monday, 8 January, 2001, 16:57 GMT
Robot heart surgery set for UK
operation
The da Vinci system in operation in Germany
A pioneering system which uses robotic arms to carry out keyhole surgery will be used for its first UK heart operation later this year.

Surgeons at St Mary's Hospital in London are preparing to use the da Vinci system to carry out heart bypass surgery.


It's wonderful. This is the only system in a British hospital

Professor Ara Darzi
This is expected to happen at some point within the next six months, when a suitable patient has been found and the surgeons involved have been fully trained.

It is hoped that the technique could cut the recovery time patients need, and the number of potential complications they could suffer.

The surgeon uses joysticks to work the tiny robotic arms - meaning they do not have to be leaning over the patient during lengthy operations.

In theory, they could be controlling the arms and watching the results from the next room, or even another hospital.

The machine adjusts itself to compensate for the natural tremor in the human hand, and can be set to make the tiniest movements.

Professor Ara Darzi, Professor of Surgery at Imperial College London, and a surgeon at St Mary's, is leading the project.

Six months

The machine has only been at the hospital for a matter of a few months, and has already been used in six successful bowel operations.

He told BBC News Online: "It's wonderful. This is the only system in a British hospital. We have to find the right patient, but hopefully we can carry out a bypass within the next six months.

"It allows you to do so many things you could not do otherwise."

Each year, many thousands of people in the UK require coronary artery bypass surgery. It is normally needed when blood vessels supplying the heart become clogged, cutting the amount of blood, and the oxygen it carries, reaching the muscle.

This can cause severe chest pain or even a heart attack.

Normally a section of blood vessel is taken from another part of the body, such as the leg, and grafted to replace the ruined section of heart blood vessel.

It is a major surgical procedure and patients often spend a significant amount of time in hospital directly afterwards.

The da Vinci system, developed in the US, allows the operation to be carried out through a much smaller incision, in theory improving recovery time.

This would help cut the currently lengthy waiting times and save the NHS money, despite each system having a 750,000 price tag.

The da Vinci system has been used successfully in the US for a variety of operations, including those to replace or repair heart valves, and delicate procedures such as the reversal of male and female sterilisation.

See also:

02 Feb 00 | Health
21 Dec 99 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes