UNMH doctor performs state’s first robotic heart surgery

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A surgeon at UNM Hospital has performed the state’s first ever robotic heart bypass surgery.

The hospital says it hopes it’s the first of many.

Dr. Mohammed Hassan performs surgery on his patients without laying a finger on them.

He doesn’t even look at them most of the time except through a screen.

“Whatever motions that I’m doing here are translated into the robot,” said Hassan, referring to his hands which were holding onto robotic controls.

He uses the arms and the eye of a 1,300 pound, $1.5 million surgical robot.

“It allows you to have greater control of what you’re doing,” Hassan said.

The hospital installed the robot in 2008, using it primarily for urology and gynecology.

Hassan is the hospital’s only heart surgeon trained to use it and in March, he became the first in the state to perform a robotic heart bypass surgery.

“You’re able to see the tissues in a much clearer way,” Hassan said.

A camera on the robot gives surgeons a 3D, high definition view, and from the surgeon’s controls to the surgical instruments, the robot eliminates any slight tremors of the surgeon’s hands.

Doctors say it benefits patients, too.

“Traditionally, heart surgery has always been performed through pretty significant incisions with significant discomfort, pain and a lengthy recuperation,” said Dr. Marco Ricci, chief of the division of cardiothoracic surgery.

Instead of cutting through bone to open up the chest, robotic surgery requires three ports on the side of the chest. Hassan’s patient went home three days after the surgery instead of the usual 10, all thanks to a touch of technology.

Hassan has another robotic heart surgery scheduled this month.

UNM Hospital hopes to have more surgeons trained to use the robot for more patients in the future.

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