The da Vinci Xi surgical robot: at the heart of success


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Thanks to the generosity of our donors, in 2017 the Montreal Heart Institute acquired a da Vinci Xi surgical robot. Through this acquisition, the Institute became the first medical establishment in Canada to devote this type of technology exclusively to cardiac surgery.

An object of fascination and curiosity due to its futuristic allure, the robot allows the Institute to work with next-level techniques and maintain its position as a leader in the field of precision medicine. Let’s take a closer look at the impressive and intriguing world of robotic surgery.

Medical robotics: technology with the power to change lives

Because our patients are at the heart of everything we do at the Institute, our top goal with this new technology is to improve quality of life for patients undergoing surgery.

Da Vinci allows doctors to operate in a way that is minimally invasive, which means that there is less trauma to the body during the procedure, mainly because smaller incisions are required. Post-surgical inconveniences are also reduced, including length of hospital stay, which plays a significant role in improving patients’ quality of life. Our ultimate goals are to ensure that patients are able to return home to their loved ones as early as possible, and to maximize healing while minimizing scars, which are much smaller than with conventional surgery.

The end of Superman scars?

Generally, open-heart surgery requires the medical team to do a sternotomy, which involves opening the thoracic cavity using a surgical saw. This type of operation usually leads to a difficult, slow recovery. However, with robotic technology we are able to decrease the number of sternotomies we do, and are instead able to make smaller incisions between the ribs, through which the robot arms are inserted.

What role does the surgeon play in robotic surgery?

Even now that we have this new technology to rely on, the surgeon’s role remains critical to the success of every procedure. It’s simple: no qualified surgeon, no robotic surgery. It would be wrong to think that the robot is in any way a replacement for a surgeon. In reality, the robot is just another surgical instrument, like a scalpel or stent, for example. The advantage of the robot is that it allows surgeons to achieve an extreme level of precision. It’s under the constant control of the surgeon, who uses a console to direct it.

How does the da Vinci Xi surgical robot work?

This robotic surgical equipment is made up of three elements:

  • The robot itself, which operates as a surgical telemanipulator, which means it can be manipulated remotely by the surgeon
  • The command console, used by the surgeon to guide the robot’s movements
  • The endoscopic vision cart, which supports a 3D vision system

These three elements allow the surgeon to use more powerful instruments, to make more precise movements and to see more clearly thanks to the vision technology. It’s like we’re giving them bionic eyes and hands.

A few highlights from the robot’s time at the Institute

  • In September 2019, the Institute celebrated its 100th robotic mitral valve reconstruction procedure. An incredible technological accomplishment in the field of health!
  • Two surgeons at the Institute are qualified to operate using the robot: Dr. Denis Bouchard and Dr. Michel Pellerin.
  • Robotic surgeries at the Institute have a success rate of 100%.
  • So far, the surgical robot is used only for coronary and mitral cardiac operations.

Every year, innovative projects are carried out at the Institute. Learn about some of the other accomplishments that were made possible thanks to your generous donations.

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100e intervention robotique en reconstruction mitrale à l’Institut
Une première canadienne à l’Institut de Cardiologie de Montréal : Un robot chirurgical dédié aux patients

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