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Inauguration of new Robotic Cardiac Surgery Centre

Yesterday, in the presence of the President of the Lazio Region, Renata Polverini, the Campus Bio-Medico held the inauguration ceremony to launch its brand new Robotic Cardiac Surgery Centre, the exciting outcome of collaboration between the University Hospital, our neighbours at the Ospedale San Camillo di Roma, and the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. The inauguration ceremony was also attended by the President of the Campus Bio-Medico, Paolo Arullani, the Director General of the Ospedale San Camillo di Roma, Professor Aldo Morrone, the head of the Cardiac Surgery Department at San Camillo, Professor Francesco Musumeci (who also teaches here at the Campus Bio-Medico), and Nirav Patel, the cardiothoracic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital.

 

"This Centre is an establishment that has all it takes to become a benchmark, not only for the Lazio Region, but throughout the whole of southern-central Italy,” said Renata Polverini, “and will act as a cornerstone for both training provision and clinical activity." The Robotic Cardiac Surgery Centre, which will be coordinated by Professor Francesco Musumeci, is the first of its kind in southern-central Italy, and an important step on the road towards the achievement of significant national and international standing in this field of medicine.

 

For Professor Paolo Arullani, the President of the Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital, this collaboration with the Ospedale San Camillo di Roma and the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York is testimony to the "the outstanding results that synergy between public and private initiatives can bring and to the importance of involving foreign institutions in Italian initiatives in a bid to reverse the brain drain."

 

Compared to the more traditional battlefields of robotic surgery such as the prostate and the uterus, the Da Vinci robot promises to significantly extend the use of mechanical arms into the delicate area of the heart. And in the field of cardiac surgery, the robot also enables the surgeon to get to the patient’s heart without having to open up the sternum. This not only significantly reduces the risk of patients developing bone infections (which can lead to serious post-operative complications), but also eliminates the trauma of patients having to live with a prominent surgical scar on their chest. The robot will be used at the Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital for cardiac surgery applications involving the mitral valve, for the repair of atrial septal defects (currently much in the news following the recent surgery that AC Milan’s star striker, Antonio Cassano, has undergone for this condition), and for the removal of cardiac tumours of the atrium. There are also plans for the robot to be used to perform coronary artery bypass grafts in the future. These operations account for almost 60% of all cardiac surgery, although at the moment the use of robotic surgery is only feasible in very selected cases.

 

During a press conference, Professor Aldo Morrone, the Director General of Ospedale San Camillo di Roma, explained “This collaboration with the Campus Bio-Medico is an expression of our two establishments’ ability to treat complex diseases using technologies that deliver outstanding scientific value, thus enabling the people of Lazio to take advantage of the best healthcare services available at both a national and an international level. But it is only by sharing our skills, professionalism and resources that we are able to offer this improved service."

 

The Campus Bio-Medico’s new Robotic Cardiac Surgery Centre is also pursuing educational goals. Thanks to the dual control console, a special feature of the Da Vinci robot used at the University Hospital, more and more heart surgeons are now able to receive in situ training, either by mirroring the movements of the robot “tutor” as it is being controlled by an experienced surgeon via a second console, or by operating directly on the patient in the certain knowledge that the robot being guided from the second console is ready to take over immediately should the need arise.

 

"We are not just gearing our training proposals to Italy, but also to Eastern Europe and Asia”, explains Professor Francesco Musumeci. “We already have collaborative and training links for minimally-invasive surgery with these parts of the world, and there is a sizeable demand for training in robotic surgery."

 

As at today, the Da Vinci robot has been used to treat some 215,000 cases across the world and across all specialist areas, a figure that is up by 40% compared with the same period in 2008, and by 60% compared with 2007. Of these, around 1,700 cases are currently in Italy, where until 2008 there was a growing trend of some 600 cases a year. In Europe there are 248 surgical robots in operation (45 of them in Italy), plus a further 67 in Asia, 19 in the Middle East and 12 in Latin America (source: Intuitive Surgical). The most widespread use of robotic surgery, however, is still centred on operating rooms in the United States, where 1,028 robots are currently being used to perform surgical interventions. This was, after all, where robotic technology was first developed during the 1990s, and from where it began to be marketed on a global scale at the beginning of the new millennium.

 

 

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