Robots Take To Heart Repairs

Updated: Dec 22 2002, 05:30am hrs
Can you imagine being up and about in a day after your heart surgery Or, even completely recovering from a cerebral palsy. All this is possible after new pathbreaking procedure that were introduced in the Capital last week. These technologies are super-specialised treatments.

The first fully robotic heart surgery was conducted last week at the Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery, which has been set up by the Escorts Heart & Research Centre. Within two days, the patient, a 50-year-old salesman, was back home, with three tiny incisions.

The machine is called Da Vinci. Introduction of this system will greatly simplify the procedures of cardiac surgeries and reduce the pain of enduring it, says Dr Naresh Trehan, executive director of Escorts.

It actually takes surgery beyond the limits of human hands. The doctor sits on a console and works on a patients heart without making incisions on his body. This technique enables a doctor to see 3-D images of the chest through the three holes made into it. Everything is magnified 10 times over. The surgery is conducted with the aid of an endoscopic camera.

The whole idea, says Dr Naresh Trehan, is to spare the patients big incisions, blood loss and longer recovery period. As of now it costs only as much as the conventional bypass surgery (Rs 1.50 lakh to Rs 2 lakh).

And a patient can return to work within 10 days of the surgery. This is in sharp contrast to conventional open-heart surgeries that take four weeks to recover. Such a surgery also leaves a foot-long scar on the chest.

It is a frontier technology with only 12 to 13 people practising it around the world, and so far only four patients in India have been operated through this method.

This surgery has some limitations, though. Only two or three bypasses can be done through this method instead of multiple bypasses.

Watchband incision technique is another new procedure that is set to make a difference to the procedure of coronary artery bypass surgery. Says Dr Trehan, The Watchband incision technique is an excellent one. It has simplified our approach in radial artery harvesting, enabling us to obtain a quality arterial conduit in a cosmetically enhanced manner. This technology also falls under the minimally invasive cardiac surgery.

BioFeedback Technology: BioFeedback rehabilitation therapy is another new line of treatment that was introduced in the Capitals Indraprastha Apollo last week. Dr Prathap C Reddy, chairman of Apollo Hospitals, says: The Apollo Feedback Centre offers a ray of hope to patients with complex neurological disorders and is welcome addition to Delhis healthcare infrastructure.

The therapy operates along the principles of a specialised form of learning called operant conditioning or trial and error learning and is beneficial to patients with physical disabilities resulting from cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, head trauma, stroke and other nervous system disorders.

The Biofeedback Rehabilitation therapy, which is also known as the Brucker method, after Dr Bernard Brucker, enables patients to gain voluntary control of paralysed muscles by training dormant cells in the brain/spinal cord to take over the function of damaged cells. It utilises spare brain cells as the human brain has over 1,000 trillion cells of which the average person uses only 10-12 per cent. The procedure can help neurologically challenged patients gain control of different parts of the body.

Says Dr Brucker who was in Delhi for the inauguration of the centre, The procedure is a result of around 30 years of research and has benefited over 8,000 patients treated by me, with almost 98 per cent success rate. This technique uses a machine called the electromyography, which captures signals and then applies psychotherapy autogenic training and hypnosis to train the brain to take over the affected regions. So far this procedure being offered at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Apollo Hospitals Chennai, and has shown good results especially in patients with cerebral palsy, which affects the body waist downwards.