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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Robots may carry out heart surgery
Da Vinci robotic surgery system
Surgeons operate using remote controlled robots
Robots may soon be carrying out complex heart surgery at a Tyneside hospital.

Doctors at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle want to introduce a revolutionary, computer-controlled, system which uses robotic arms to conduct operations.

Surgeons say the American-developed Da Vinci robotic system will cut patient recovery time and reduce the risk of complications.

The system features remotely-controlled robot hands which make a series of tiny incisions to replace blood vessels in damaged areas of the heart.

Da Vinci robotic surgery arm
Robot hands make tiny incisions in blood vessels

A team of consultants from Tyneside has been to Germany to learn how the system works.

The only other UK hospital to use the system is St Mary's in London.

A spokesman for Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust said: "We are looking at the possibility of purchasing a Da Vinci robotic surgery system and are building up a business case on what benefits it would bring to patients.

"If we do decide to go ahead on the basis of the business case, the system would be further assessed in-house for its clinical and cost effectiveness."

The system uses computer game-style joysticks to manipulate small robotic arms.

Surgeons don't even have to be in the same hospital to use the system.


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12 Aug 02 | Breakfast
09 Jul 02 | Health
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