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Lenox Hill Hospital Successfully Completes the World's First Robotic Assisted Epicardial Microwave Ablation

November 5, 2002

Didier Loulmet, MD, Chief of the Minimally Invasive Robotic Cardiac Surgery Program at Lenox Hill Hospital and an internationally renowned robotics pioneer and William Frumkin, MD, a leading electrophysiologist, successfully performed the world's first robotic assisted epicardial microwave ablation on a 45-year-old male suffering from chronic atrial fibrillation.

Microwave ablation is used to treat chronic atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation causes the heart's upper chambers to quiver -- which can last for a few seconds, hours, or all the time. This may increase the risk of stroke or cause progressive heart failure when the heart chronically beats too fast.

Using the Da Vinci Surgical System, Dr. Loulmet performed this robotic-assisted surgery without a chest incision. Only four pencil sized holes were made between the ribs. Through these holes, two robotic instruments and an endoscope (a tiny camera) gain access to the heart, making surgery possible without opening the chest. The small incisions cause less pain and scarring and a quicker recovery time for the patient than traditional open-heart operations.

Microwave ablation is performed using a special flexible probe to direct microwave energy and create several lesions on the heart. The lesions block the conduction of abnormal electrical beats and restore a normal heartbeat.

"This is an exciting time in cardiovascular surgery. Successfully completing epicardial microwave ablation with only four key hole incisions is truly a remarkable breakthrough in minimally invasive procedures," said Dr. Loulmet, who was the first surgeon to use robots in cardiac surgery and performed the world's first totally endoscopic closed-chest coronary bypass surgery using robotics in France in June 1998.

"This procedure gives people a non-invasive surgical option for the treatment of chronic atrial fibrillation which affects 2 million Americans," added Dr. Loulmet. "After a period of recovery following the procedure, most patients can stop taking blood thinners."

Lenox Hill Hospital is a 652-bed community-based acute care hospital located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and is home to The Lenox Hill Heart and Vascular Institute of New York which offers a comprehensive approach to total cardiac and vascular care, providing diagnosis and treatment of simple and complex conditions, as well as rehabilitation and disease prevention.

For more information on The Lenox Hill Heart and Vascular Institute, visit its website: or call 1-877-Heartbeat.

Members of the press seeking information about Lenox Hill Hospital should call the Public Relations Department at (212) 434-2400.