Cardiac surgery world first Pacemaker complication repaired using minimally invasive surgery

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is proud to announce a world first. LHSC’s cardiac surgery team successfully performed an emergency surgery to repair a hole in a patient’s heart caused by a pacemaker complication using the DaVinci robot.

On February 15, 2011, LHSC cardiac surgeon, Dr. Bob Kiaii received an emergency page. Patient Viola Addison had a hole in her heart that required immediate repair. The hole was caused by a pacemaker lead that had perforated the wall of her heart. Traditionally, this surgery is done via open chest surgery.

“The use of robotic surgery allows us to continually improve our surgery techniques and treat patients who are considered high risk for traditional surgery in a less invasive way,” says Dr. Kiaii. “The heart is a moving object -as it pumps blood and oxygen throughout the body the heart walls move in and out. This movement makes traditional endoscopic surgery very risky and challenging. The robot gives me the manual dexterity needed to perform surgeries that require precision like this one.”

With Ms. Addison’s chest closed, and using the robot on the beating heart, Dr. Kiaii placed a suture around the hole where the pacemaker lead had perforated through the wall of the heart. Next, the cardiology team pulled the pacemaker lead back into place while the surgery team closed the hole. This minimally invasive approach resulted in no bleeding, no complications and left Ms. Addison with only three small keyhole incisions. The surgery team was able to anchor the same pacemaker lead to a new position.

After a two-day stay at the hospital, Ms. Addison went home. Ms. Addison says for her the surgery was a “breeze”: “I am not in any pain and I am no longer out of breath. I don’t know where I would be without the surgery – it was something that had to be done.”

Surgical robots have been used in London since 1999 when LHSC acquired its first surgical robot. In 2000, LHSC established CSTAR, Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics, as a research and education program in partnership with Lawson Health Research Institute and The University of Western Ontario to advance minimally invasive robotic surgeries.

LHSC’s President and CEO, Bonnie Adamson congratulated the LHSC staff and surgeons. “This is a great example of the ongoing and proud tradition of medical firsts at LHSC.”