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Robots Help With Stent Placement

December 17, 2012, 6:10 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Robots Help With Stent Placement

Sanford Health will become just the fifth health system in the country to use robots to help with stent placement.

Thousands of people undergo stent procedures every year to open blocked heart arteries and prevent heart attacks.  These new robots will make that process safer and more efficient.

Having a blocked heart artery can be a life or death situation. It can lead to a heart attack.

"We need to see them early before damage is done. That's what is life-saving," Sanford USD Medical Center President Dr. Charles O'Brien said.

O'Brien says this new robot will help save time when doctors are placing a stent to open a blocked heart artery and that's not all.

"They can be placed robotically, more precisely and safer," O'Brien said.

"You can allow more precise manipulation of the devices to positioning the stent," Corindus Vascular Robotics Co-Founder Tal Wenderow said.

Wenderow is the co-founder of the company that created the robot. He says it will not only help patients, but also doctors because they can now run the robot from a booth, rather than right beside the bed.  That will reduce doctors exposure to radiation, and they won't have to wear heavy safety gear.

"Which allows him to focus more on the patient and concentrate on the key things of the procedure," Wenderow said.

Sanford officials hope that in the future they'll be able to use the technology to help people in rural communities even more.

"The physician can operate this particular type of robot from ten, 20 feet away. In the future, we're thinking this could be across miles," O'Brien said.

It could mean doctors in Sioux Falls are able to operate on patients in rural areas miles away.

"It's always a challenge for us.  How do we deliver the same high-degree of care to all of our patients throughout the state," O'Brien said.

O'Brien hopes it will someday be possible with the help of a robot.

Sanford is buying two robots. One will be at the Sanford Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls. The other will be used at the Sanford Aberdeen Medical Center. Sanford received almost $2.5 million from The Helmsley Charitable Trust to help pay for the robots.

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