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Heart surgery patient Joseph Dehen of Anoka, Minn. received the go-ahead to go home by cardiologist Abdelwahaab Akef, MD Dehen was the first patient to have da Vinci-assisted robotic surgery at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.
Heart surgeons harvested Dehen's mammary artery using robotic arms that positioned and precisely maneuvered instruments inside his chest.

First da Vinci-assisted surgery is cardiac

Cardiothoracic surgeons Jong Kim, MD and Brian Tell, MD, performed the first robotic procedure at Mercy Hospital on Friday, November 9. They used the robot to harvest an artery from the chest of Joseph Dehen of Anoka, Minn. Then, they used the artery to bypass a blockage in Dehen's heart in a minimally invasive procedure.

Dehen said he didn't know his procedure was historic. However, he was pleased that the new equipment spared him the splitting of his breast bone, the traditional eight-inch bypass surgery chest scar and reduced his expected recovery time by half. Dehen, who is 80, went home from the hospital three days after surgery.

Second robotic surgery

Urologists David Streitz, MD and Gregory Hanson, MD performed Mercy's second robotic surgery on Tuesday, November 13. The patient, 69-year-old Thomas Heideman of Elk River, Minn. was familiar with the benefits of the robotic system and had been scheduled for surgery in Minneapolis -- until he learned that it was available closer to home.

"It's definitely becoming the standard for prostate surgery," said Dr. Streitz. "The robot removes human tremors, and the robotic arms can move in ways that human hands cannot. For prostate surgery patients, there is significantly less pain and fewer long-term complications."

Making surgery safer

"Using the robot makes surgery safer," said Dr. Kim. "The visualization is three-dimensional, high-definition and magnified 15 times. And, fewer and smaller incisions mean less scarring and risk of infection." Mercy officials say as additional physicians gain experience, the da Vinci robotic system at Mercy will be used for a variety of surgeries, including numerous gynecology applications such as hysterectomy and myomectomy.