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Robotic heart surgery

12:42pm, December 3, 2002

From Chicago, Ill., at a meeting of the American Heart Association

Surgeons in New York have used an experimental robotic system to operate on the hearts of 17 patients. The million-dollar device has three arms that hold tiny surgical instruments, as well as cameras to give the surgeons a three-dimensional view of an area of heart tissue. The technique requires only a small incision.

Rather than cutting through muscle and bone to reach the heart, the physician-researchers inserted the robotic arms through 8-to-10-millimeter-long incisions. The surgeons used the system's instruments to repair a small opening between the two upper chambers of the patients' hearts, which had had the defect since birth. The procedure was successful in all the patients,

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