Robots In The Operating Room

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Thursday, April 7, 2011 - 10:02am

New machines help doctors perform surgery where they couldn't in the past.

Dr. Kousik Krishnan is fixing the beat of a patient's heart, though it may look like he's at the helm of a video game.

John Seraphin says after three years of episodes, he hopes this will permanently prevent his heart from going into a potentially dangerous rhythm.

Dr. Krishnan is snaking a catheter into John's heart using a half million dollar robot called Sensei.

He controls the catheter from the room next door.

Dr. Krishnan creates a 3-D virtual image of John's heart as he lies unconscious, identifies the exact spot for the procedure using the images and then directs the robot through the delicate process of shaving away a tiny bit of abdominal heart tissue, hoping to reroute the heart's electrical impulses so it will beat normally again.

"This three dimensional image allows me to know precisely where I am at all times. The robot knows which views I'm in so I can always be driving the catheter," Dr. Krishnan explains.

In essence, enhancing what the doctor knows of the patient with real time virtual images, and then harnessing that to the precision and tirelessness of a robot.

It's only the second time for this procedure at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, but just as movies imagine the future, doctors here hope technology may soon allow them to fix what they couldn't fix before.
 

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