The da Vinci robot is a highly sophisticated tool that enables the surgeon to perform the procedure with greater precision and control than is possible in traditional hands-on surgery. The surgeon sits in a console equipped with controls that direct robotic arms to perform the surgery. The robotic arms are very agile and work as an extension of the surgeon's hands. A tiny camera attached to the robotic arms gives the surgeon a very detailed, 3-D view of the operating space inside the chest.
The entire operation is performed as a closed-chest procedure. The heart continues to beat during the surgery and no heart-lung bypass machine is required. Internal mammary artery grafts are most frequently used, so grafts are rarely harvested from other parts of the body, such as the arm or leg.
Surgeons here use two internal mammary arteries for bypass grafts because these are among the "cleanest" and most durable vessels in the body. The mammary arteries of the average 80-year-old are usually plaque-free. The da Vinci robot makes it easier and safer for the surgeon to harvest these grafts. And because the breastbone is not split during a TECAB procedure, our surgeons are not concerned that the mammary arteries are put to a new use — circulation is maintained in the thoracic cavity.