During the months of May and June, no less than 18 cardiac and digestive surgeries were performed by three teams of Belgian, French and German surgeons, with use of the Intuitive system. This new computer-enhanced minimally invasive surgery system incorporates advanced robotics, electronic instrumentation, and innovative visualization techniques. The surgeon executes the intervention, seated at a console, while he is viewing a high-resolution 3D video image of the surgical field and remotely monitoring the computerised mechanical arm and wrists. Manufacturer of the system is the California based company, Intuitive Surgical, which has been founded in 1995.
According to Punto Informatico, this innovative type of telesurgery is able to meet the highest standards with regard to hygiene and accuracy, since it avoids large open incisions. The minimally invasive procedure saves the patient from tormenting pain and allows him to recover far more quickly. The pencil-sized instruments are manipulated by means of EndoWrist technology or mechanical micro-wrists, simulating the natural hand movements of the surgeon in conventional open surgery. The surgeon's hands meanwhile hold their own instruments below the monitor at the console and execute the appropriate gestures, which simultaneously are being transferred to identical microsurgical movements at the operative site.
The Broussais Hospital in Paris, the Leipzig Heart Centre, and the Saint Pierre Hospital in Brussels are all three renowned institutions for cardiovascular therapy and minimally invasive surgery. In Paris, Professor Alain Carpentier and Dr. Didier Loulmet applied the Intuitive system in six open heart procedures. They both expressed their enthusiasm about the superior visualization and the accurate manoeuvers of the instruments inside the heart. In addition, they were the first to perform a so-called "closed chest", videoscopic coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) in the world.
The Intuitive system allowed them to complete the CABG procedure only through three little ports with a minimal length of 1 cm each. The system's endoscope was inserted into the first port to provide the surgeon at the console with a detailed 3D image of the operative field. The computer-manipulated surgical instruments were introduced into both the other ports. Afterwards, the 69 year old patient recovered extremely fast without any complaints about post-operative pain. The system performed equally well in Leipzig during five coronary bypass interventions and four mitral valve repairs. The German team, consisting of Professor Friedrich Mohr and Dr. Volkmar Falk, executed the first ever videoscopic anastamosis.
The Belgian St. Pierre Hospital team of Professor Guy-Bernard Cadiere and Dr. Vertruyen used the Intuitive system at the Broussais Hospital for two fully minimally invasive gastro-esophageal reflux operations, referred to as Nissen Fundoplication. Cadiere was excited about the possibility to scale the movements for optimal precision. Together with his German colleague, Dr. Anno Diegeler, Professor Cadiere was invited to present the initial results of the Intuitive experience at the 6th World Congress of Endoscopic Surgery in Rome, last June. There, experts from all over the world could witness the huge potential of the latest state-of-the-art developments in endoscopic techniques and minimally invasive surgery.