Mercy is Northeast Ohio’s First to Offer Hybrid Robotic Heart Surgery

Mercy is Northeast Ohio’s First to Offer Hybrid Robotic Heart Surgery

Posted on: September 17, 2009

Canton, Ohio: Mercy Medical Center Heart Center is again helping pioneer minimally invasive heart surgery in Ohio and the nation. Members of the hospital’s medical staff recently performed Northeast Ohio’s first hybrid revascularization, which combines the da Vinci® robotic single-vessel small thoracotomy (SVST) procedure with angioplasty.

The hybrid offers patients the best of both procedures, minimizing trauma and speeding recovery and healing for eligible patients.

Mark Peercy, a 56-year-old man from Strasburg, Ohio, was the first in Stark and Tuscarawas Counties to undergo the hybrid procedure. Following a successful robotic SVST on several major heart vessels in June, Peercy underwent a planned angioplasty to open a smaller vessel this month.

Robotic Heart Surgery Means Tiny Incisions, Faster Recovery
Angioplasty with stent placement remains the least invasive form of revascularization (meaning treatment to restore blood flow to the heart), but a blockage may reoccur within a relatively short time. Open heart surgery that involves bypassing coronary arteries with internal mammary arteries has proven to be significantly more effective than stents and even a bypass using leg veins. However, the surgery requires a long incision, splitting the sternum and spreading the ribs to access the heart.
With the need for only a few tiny incisions, the robotic hybrid combines the minimally invasive nature of angioplasty with the effectiveness of a coronary bypass.
Ahmed Sabe, M.D., the Harvard-trained interventional cardiologist and medical director of Mercy Heart Center who performed Peercy’s angioplasty, notes that patients feel like they’ve been "run over by a truck" following a traditional bypass.
"But, after robotic heart surgery, patients feel different," says Sabe. "Several have reported that they didn’t even need pain medication after being released from the hospital. It’s remarkable."
Peercy credits his own rapid recovery to this cutting-edge robotic technology. "I saw a good friend go through open heart surgery. They cracked his chest, and he was so miserable afterwards, in so much pain," he says. "I was worried about that, thinking this would be difficult. But it’s been a breeze. So many people – even my doctors – told me they didn’t believe I’d had open heart surgery done. I looked too good."
Aqeel Sandhu, M.D., trained at Harvard and the Cleveland Clinic and currently medical director of Mercy Cardiothoracic Surgery, performed Peercy’s SVST and is pleased with the outcome of the new procedure.
"We restructure the arteries that supply the heart through incisions that are smaller than dimes, resulting in less pain, less blood loss and a faster recovery for patients. In the past, recuperation from this type of major surgery would have taken weeks to months. Now, like my patient Mark Peercy, most are back on their feet much more quickly," says Sandhu.
With the surgery robot, a surgeon operates while seated comfortably in front of a console, viewing a 3D image of the surgical field. Holding the system’s master controls, the surgeon’s hands and wrists are naturally positioned relative to the eyes. The system then seamlessly translates hand, wrist and finger movements into precise, real-time movements of surgical instruments inside the patient.
Sandhu adds that the robotic arms give him a greater range of motion and more refined hand movements, making the procedure less complicated than ever before.
This robotic technology, Sabe believes, is a formidable new weapon in the battle against coronary heart disease. "The robotic procedures that Mercy is helping refine will greatly enhance patient recovery and satisfaction," he says. "And, in offering them, we are in keeping with Mercy’s mission to do what’s best for our patients."
For Peercy, who hasn’t been able to work for 10 years because of his heart condition, the best part has been another chance to enjoy life and his grandchildren, ages four and 12. For six years prior to surgery, he suffered from chest pain, shortness of breath and high blood pressure daily and says he lived on nitroglycerine.
"Now I’m on the go all the time, and I watch my grandchildren every day," Peercy says. "All my family members who have died had heart problems, but I guess I’m putting up a fight. Everyone at Mercy has been super with me. I always come here. It’s a good hospital."
Mercy is Area’s First to Offer Robotic Surgery
Last fall Mercy Medical Center in Canton became the first and only hospital in Stark, Carroll, Wayne, Holmes and Tuscarawas Counties to unveil the da Vinci Surgical System and currently has two robots on site.
This advanced surgical platform provides an alternative to traditional surgery – with its large open incisions – and laparoscopy, which is typically limited to very simple procedures. Advantages include small incisions, as well as the potential for reduced blood loss and risk of infection, significantly less pain, a shorter hospital stay, a faster return to normal activities and better clinical outcomes.
Surgeons at Mercy are now routinely performing gynecology, urology and cardiac robotic procedures. Ear, nose and throat and other general surgeries are on the horizon for the hospital’s robots.
Mercy Continues its Heart Care Leadership
In 2006 Mercy was the nation’s first to install a fully functioning cardiac catheterization lab in its Emergency Department Chest Pain Center. The cath lab has helped Mercy become one of the nation’s fastest angioplasty responders and exceed American College of Cardiology goals by getting more than 90 percent of patients to catheterization in less than 90 minutes – with nearly 10 percent in 15 minutes or less.
The hospital’s impressive list of other heart care firsts includes:
§         The world’s first angioplasty in an emergency department.
§         The nation’s first accredited chest pain center; cardiac catheterization in a community hospital; and ER use of cardiopulmonary bypass to resuscitate victims of heart attack.
§         Ohio’s first emergency chest pain center with accreditation to perform angioplasty 24/7; drug-eluting stent angioplasty; and minimally invasive coronary bypass.
As a result of its innovative cardiac care, Mercy was named one of America’s 50 top heart centers by U.S. News & World Report and one of Solucient’s 100 top hospitals for cardiovascular services in 2002 and 2003.
Other Mercy innovations – such as a complete range of cardiac and thoracic procedures, 64-slice CT scans with SnapShot Pulse, "universal beds" in the cardiovascular special care unit, TandemHeart® PTVA System and remote heart failure monitoring – bring advanced heart care home close to home for its patients.
The Mercy Heart Center has received superior evaluations from the Joint Commission, the Ohio Department of Health, the Society of Chest Pain Centers and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
About Mercy Medical Center
Mercy Medical Center, a nonprofit corporation of the Sisters of Charity Health System and University Hospitals Health System, operates a 476-bed hospital serving Stark, Carroll, Wayne, Holmes and Tuscarawas Counties and parts of Southeastern Ohio. It has 550 physicians on its Medical Staff and employs 2,500 people. Mercy operates outpatient health centers in Carrollton, Jackson Township, Lake Township, Louisville, North Canton, Plain Township and Tuscarawas County. A Catholic hospital, Mercy Medical Center upholds the mission and philosophy of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and continues to be responsive to the needs of the community, including the provision of care to all, regardless of their ability to pay. For more information, see
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