Texas hosptial uses robot to perform living saving heart surgery - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Texas hosptial uses robot to perform living saving heart surgery

(NBC) - Doctors at one Texas hospital are using cutting-edge technology to perform a common heart surgery.

A "robot" now does a lot of the work a doctor used to do by hand.

"You have an apprehension in the back of your head. When is this going to happen? You have no idea, no control over it," said heart patient Ray Dvorak.

Like millions of Americans, Ray Dvorak suffers from heart arrhythmia, or irregular heart beat.

"You can actually feel your heart just pounding in your chest. Sometimes I�ll feel a tingling in my arms," said Dvorak.

Dvorak, a retired engineer from Arlington, Texas and his wife Barbara are in the hospital, counting the hours until his surgery.

It's a common procedure called "ablation."

Doctor William Nesbitt and his team at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital insert a catheter into Dvorak's heart.

"We're actually trying to burn the inside of the heart to block extra beats from getting into the heart," said Dr. Nesbitt.

To perform the surgery, dr. Nesbitt used to have to stand over the patient and manipulate the machine by hand. Tedious work that took hours.

But now, the doctor can sit comfortably at a nearby table.

"What we're doing is manipulating the catheter inside the heart," said Nesbitt.

The actual work is done by a robot.

The doctor uses a joystick to control everything by remote control.

It may look like some video game, but this is the latest in high-tech medicine.

"It's going to make these ablation procedures more standardized. It's going to make us be able to do them quicker and we hope there's better patient outcomes," Nesbitt said.

While Dvorak is undergoing the surgery, his wife and family wait anxiously.

After several hours, it's over.

The surgery was a success! Thanks to a doctor and his robot.

Copyright 2010 NBC. All rights reserved.

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