Cutting-Edge Robotic Cardiac Surgery within Reach of the Common Man in India

The future of heart surgeries is in the fusion of the skilled surgeon’s mind and the micro-precision of a robot.

Photo by Irwan iwe on Unsplash

When Mr. Prasad, a 55-year-old heart patient in need of a bypass, first heard of ‘robotic heart surgery’, he assumed that it was only for the uber-rich. He also had his doubts about its safety, and thought only a gullible person would put their hearts in the hands of a machine.

Despite his doubts, Prasad enquired with Dr. M M Yusuf, a renowned cardiac surgeon, about this new concept. The eye-opening conversation that followed proved to be a life changing moment for Prasad, as it cleared all the misconceptions, he had about Robotic and Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery. Prasad, who had initially wanted an open-heart surgery funded by the Chief Minister’s scheme, instead opted for robot-assisted surgery, with his concerns on cost and safety now removed

Prasad belongs to a middle-class family and runs a petty-shop in his village. His socio-economic background meant he had worries about how expensive robot-assisted surgery would be. However, he did not realise that the costs he had to consider were not just that of the surgery, but also the acquired indirect costs of recovery. For instance, unlike open heart surgery which has a recuperation period of four months, patients who undertake robotic surgery stay in hospital for only 2 days with a recuperation period of two weeks. This made him realise that not only would robotic surgery help him save on the charges of extra hospital stay, but he could also get back to work much sooner. This both reduces medical expenses, including the extra medication required to treat open-surgery wounds and prevents having to stay at home to recover and lose out on months of income.

Prasad learnt that with the use of tiny instruments and robotically controlled tools, skilled surgeons like Dr. M M Yusuf are able to perform surgeries in a way that is far less invasive than open-heart surgery, or even non-robotic minimally invasive surgery. Open heart surgery demands long incisions in the chest to access the heart, and sometimes in the limbs to access veins for bypass. All that is required in robotic surgeries are two small holes and a 5 cm cut in the chest region. This means, barely noticeable pain, no scars and no risk of wound infections.

Prasad recently underwent a smooth robot-assisted surgery and, as expected, was discharged within two days. He is all set to open his petty shop in less than two weeks.

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