Emory CT Surgeons Lead Worldwide Training in Cardiac Robotics

March 2018

Douglas Murphy, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital, and Michael Halkos, MD, chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Emory University School of Medicine, recently hosted an Intracardiac Robotics Conference for surgical teams from medical institutions around the world.

Surgical teams attended from Australia, England, Canada, and various cities around the U.S. The conference was sponsored by the International College of Robotic Surgery and the Emory University School of Medicine, and gave teams the opportunity to learn specifics about establishing an intracardiac robotics program, to do hands-on laboratory work, and have discussions with surgeons sharing the best techniques in robotics.

Dr. Murphy has led the College since its creation in 2009 at Saint Joseph's Hospital. The purpose of the College is to teach cardiac robotics to teams with a focus on patient centered intracardiac and revascularization procedures. Dr. Murphy is a renowned pioneer in the field of robotic surgery, performing Georgia's first robotic heart surgery at Saint Joseph's in 2002. Last year, he achieved a world record after completing his 2,000th robotically assisted mitral valve surgery.

Dr. Halkos is a highly experienced and productive academic cardiac surgeon-scientist with expertise in minimally invasive cardiac surgery, particularly robotic-assisted coronary artery bypass surgery and robotic mitral valve surgery, hybrid coronary revascularization, and hybrid atrial fibrillation ablation. Over 50 percent of his clinical practice focuses on minimally invasive approaches for cardiac surgical operations.

Robotically-assisted heart surgery is performed by a cardiac surgeon using a specially-designed computer to control surgical instruments on thin robotic arms that are inserted into a patient's torso through small incisions. "By coming through the right chest with robotic technology and instrumentation, we are able to see the valve better, and because we are able to see it better, we are able to perform more precise technical maneuvers to repair valves," says Dr. Halkos.

"What the patient sees is fast recovery out of the hospital, typically three days," says Dr. Murphy, explaining another benefit of this type of minimally invasive heart surgery.

In addition to repairing mitral and triscupid valves, surgeons can also remove tumors and repair holes in the heart during robotic surgery.

Paul Modi, MD, a surgeon from Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital who has trained extensively with Dr. Murphy, recently performed the U.K.'s first cardiac robotic heart procedure with his assistance after the Intracardiac Robotics Conference. Watch the BBC video here.

Watch the Emory video on robotic heart surgery at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital here.

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