Each year, about 1 million Americans with coronary artery disease (CAD) are treated with angioplasty, making it one of the most frequently performed procedures in the U.S. The technique has remained largely unchanged for decades … until now.
This fall, UVA began utilizing robotic technology to perform angioplasty, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention. “Our first cases with the system have been very successful,” says interventional cardiologist Michael Ragosta, MD. “The procedure itself — the heart catheterization — is basically the same. This is an enhancement of an already proven technique.”
The Robotic Advantage
The advantages of the robotic-assisted approach are just as considerable for the proceduralist as for the patient, according to Ragosta. “With traditional angioplasty, the physician is usually standing over the patient, straining to see a screen across the room and wearing a lead vest to protect from radiation,” he says.
In contrast, the robotic technology allows the proceduralist to step away from the patient and away from the dangers of radiation exposure. The operator is seated behind a barrier and directly in front of a viewing screen, which helps reduce fatigue and increase precision.
“Sitting away from the patient in a radiation-protected cockpit, I use a joystick to advance the catheter, millimeter by millimeter, through the artery,” says Ragosta. “The enhanced visualization of the technology provides me with better measurement of the blockages and precise placement of stents. The enhanced control, visualization and measurement will transform the way we perform angioplasty procedures and ultimately improve patient care.”
Only the Beginning
The potential is great for robotic technology to transform all interventional procedures. “This is definitely the direction we are heading. From here, we can expand to other procedures,” says Ragosta. “For example, we are already beginning to look at developing procedures for conditions like peripheral vascular disease.”
As one of the first 25 institutions to begin using the CorPath® Vascular Robotic System for angioplasty, UVA will serve as a resource to other institutions adopting the technology. “We not only had to outfit our lab with this technology, but we had to adjust our workflow,” says Ragosta. “Because we are one of the first, we can now educate others on how to implement this new technology.”