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Times of India
30 July 2012
Dr Sudhir Srivastava performs city’s first robot–assisted cardiac surgery on Nashik resident Anil Kaul

A Nashik resident underwent the city’s first robot–assisted cardiac surgery to correct a hole in his heart at the Asian Heart Institute at Bandra Kurla Complex on Thursday.

The procedure – called an Atrial septal defect closure surgery – was a minimal invasive surgery conducted by cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Sudhir Srivastava, and is the first of its kind in Western India.

About two months ago, 29–year–old Anil Kaul felt a sharp pain in his heel, followed by fluctuations in his blood pressure. Doctors advised him to undergo an echocardiogram (a test which allows a doctor to see how one’s heart is beating and pumping blood), which revealed that he had a condition called an Atrial Septal Defect, a congenital heart defect in which the interatrial septum (wall of tissue that separates the right and left atria of the heart) has a hole.

When doctors told him that an open heart surgery was the only option to correct the defect, Kaul was quite hesitant. However, the alternative of a minimally invasive robotic surgery changed his mind.

"When I learnt about the after effects of traditional open heart surgery, I was in two minds. I did not want to go through such a major operation at 29," said Kaul, who works with a telecom company. "But when I heard of this form of surgery, I thought it was better option. The recovery has been significant. Doctors say I can go home today," he said.

As compared to an open heart surgery, robot assisted cardiac surgery is far less invasive

As opposed to an open heart surgery, which requires the heart to be opened to address the defect, robot assisted cardiac surgery is far less invasive. In Kaul’s case, the procedure involved making small 1–2 cms–sized incisions on the chest after which the robot provided the surgeon visual access through 3D high–definition images of the defect, which was used by Dr Srivastava to correct the problem. "In simple terms, we closed the hole using tissue from Kaul’s own heart using very small incisions for access," explained Srivastava, who is attached to the International Centre for Robotic Surgery and has performed over 1,300 robotic cardiothoracic procedures in Delhi and the United States, where he practiced earlier.

According to Dr Srivastava, many young patients preferred this kind of surgery to traditional open heart surgeries, which involves a long recovery time, blood loss, trauma, increased risk of infection and leaves a lifelong ugly scar. "Unmarried, young patients are wary of getting it done," he said.

In comparison, robotic procedures allowed patients to recover much faster. "There is less trauma, less blood loss and fewer complications," he said. Dr Srivastava also clarified that while many assume that a robot carries out the surgery, it is actually operated by a surgeon.

Kaul, who spent about Rs 7.5 lakh on the surgery, is all set to join work from next week. "I am ready to go back to normal life," he said, adding that he was going to get married in a few months.

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