First Robot-Assisted Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery in the U.S. Performed at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

Columbia University Medical Center Surgeons Perform Historic Heart Surgery

Jan 17, 2002


A 71-year-old retired businessman from New Jersey is the first patient in the U.S. to receive robotically-assisted coronary artery bypass surgery without a chest incision of any kind. The operation was performed by Dr. Michael Argenziano, director of robotic cardiac surgery, and Dr. Craig Smith, chief of cardiothoracic surgery, as part of a clinical trial sanctioned by the Food and Drug Administration at NewYork-Presbyterian's Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center on January 15, 2002. Until this point, coronary artery bypass surgery required open-chest surgery, which involves an eight to ten-inch incision made in the chest. Robotically-assisted surgery requires only three pencil-sized holes made between the ribs. Through these holes, two robotic-arms and an endoscope (a tiny camera) gain access to the heart, making surgery possible without opening the chest.

This historic operation follows the successes of other robotically-assisted surgeries at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Cardiac surgeons at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center have performed more than 40 robotic cardiac operations including internal mammary artery harvests, mitral valve repairs, and the first robotically-assisted atrial septal defect repair in the United States. The surgical robot, Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci™ Surgical System, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for a number of clinical trials in which NewYork-Presbyterian's New York Weill Cornell Medical Center also participates.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States. Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) is the most commonly performed "open heart" operation. There are approximately 375,000 CABG surgeries performed in the United States each year.

Studies show that patients who have minimally invasive operations get out of the hospital one to two days earlier than patients recovering from conventional cardiac surgery. Dr. Argenziano, who is also the principal investigator for the first robotic coronary artery bypass surgery in the United States, says, "Other advantages of minimally invasive surgery can include quicker patient recovery times, less pain, and dramatically less scarring than traditional open-heart operations."