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Innovations (Phila). 2012 May-Jun;7(3):223-8. doi: 10.1097/IMI.0b013e318265bd8b.

Precision incision: robotic coronary revascularization via 3.9-cm minithoracotomy.

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Division of Cardiac Surgery, Lankenau Medical Center, Wynnewood, PA 19096, USA.


Coronary artery bypass grafting remains the treatment choice for coronary artery disease; but sternotomy, the most commonly used approach, compromises its benefits with postoperative morbidity, higher complication rates, and prolonged length of hospital stay. Despite this, minimally invasive and robotic-assisted technology has not been adopted or widely embraced because supporting literature on robotic-assisted coronary artery bypass grafting is extremely limited. Since 2005, the cardiothoracic surgical team at our institution has been developing and maturing an effective method using robotic harvesting of the left internal mammary artery (LIMA) and beating heart surgery through a minithoracotomy for coronary revascularization. This surgical technique involves precisely placing the robotic endoscopic port immediately over the left anterior descending (LAD) artery target site. The robotically harvested LIMA is secured to the epicardium at the LAD target, the robotic instruments are removed, and the endoscopic port site is enlarged slightly greater than 1 cm to become the minithoracotomy and allow for LIMA-to-LAD anastomosis. The other two robotic ports are used to complete the procedure without a need for additional incisions. This standardized method has been used in more than 750 patients, and since 2009, the last 377 consecutive non-rib-spreading minithoracotomy incisions measured a median of 3.9 cm (mean [SD], 4.16 [1.2748] cm; range, 2.3-12.0 cm). This "How I Do It" article describes our methods in detail and associated robotic nuances.

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