"We had been using this technology, which we received three months ago, in patients who come to us with chest pain and are relatively stable," Sharma said. "But this was the first time we used it on a patient who had an acute heart attack."
Here's how a stent is implanted: A catheter is inserted and guided through a blocked artery. The catheter acts as a rail for a balloon that is slid into the artery. The balloon is inflated to push the blockage aside. A stent, an expandable metal tube, is slid into the area opened up by the balloon to keep blood flowing.
Many patients with chest pain and blocked arteries are treated with this procedure, Sharma said.
But when Roscoe resident
The robot guides the catheterization process with more precision.
The procedure is the same whether someone is in critical or stable condition, he said. The only difference is it has to be done faster on someone in critical condition. Sharma felt he had enough experience working with the robot to perform the catheterization procedure quickly enough to save Meier's life.
Meier's procedure was completed in 68 minutes, Sharma said. The national standard for completion of the procedure on a patient with an acute heart attack is 90 minutes, he said.
When Meier learned she was part of a medical first, she didn't know how to respond -- all she cared about was that she had survived.
"I figured they did the right thing, the best thing, for me," she said. "I'm just happy everything worked out."
The CorPath System, approved for use on humans last year, helps interventional cardiologists in the placement of stents and balloons in patients with coronary artery disease, Sharma said.
Both hospitals in
The major benefits to using robotics over the traditional method is reduced radiation exposure to the patient and staff, precision stent placement and increased comfort for the doctor who performs the procedure, Sharma said.
Previously, Sharma had to use an X-ray to see the blockage, then manually guide and stabilize the catheter, balloon and stent with his hands through the arteries with 2-3 millimeter vessels. He wore a lead suit to shield him from the X-ray's radiation.
The robot is equipped with a tiny camera that eliminates the need for X-rays, he said.
It advances the catheter, the balloon and the stent in 1 millimeter increments, so he knows exactly how large the stent has to be, Sharma said. When the catheterization procedure is done manually, he has to estimate the size of the stent needed, which is not nearly as precise.
Instead of having to stand directly over the patient in a lead suit, he can control the robot with a joystick while sitting in a cockpit, which reduces stress on the doctor, he said.
The robot will be used whenever possible, although it can't be used for all heart blockages, such as when bypass surgery is required, he said.
This new technology is offered to all patients who need to undergo this procedure with no additional charge, he said.
"It is not increasing your risk or increasing the cost of the procedure," Sharma said. "There are only the benefits."
Meier said she is feeling OK considering the circumstances, and is slowly recovering.
"I'm more tired than I was before, but they did tell me not to do anything after, so maybe I'm just lazy. I don't know," she said with a laugh.
Meier began cardiac rehabilitation on
Benefits of robotic intervention include:
--No X-ray required, meaning no radiation exposure.
--Precision stent placement. No estimates or guesswork involved.
--Increased comfort for doctor improves decision-making capabilities.
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