Emory Healthcare surgeons lead worldwide training in cardiac robotics

March 6, 2018


Mary Beth Spence
Senior Manager, Media Relations

Dr. Douglas Murphy, chief heart surgeon at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital, repairs a patient's heart valve, assisted by a surgical team as well as a Da Vinci surgical robot, and explains the reasons Emory Healthcare has adopted  robot-assisted surgery.

Douglas Murphy, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital and Michael Halkos, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the Emory School of Medicine recently hosted an Intracardiac Robotics conference for surgical teams from medical institutions around the world.

Surgical teams attended from Australia, England, Canada, and various cities around the U.S. The conference was sponsored by the International College of Robotic Surgery and the Emory University School of Medicine, and gave teams the opportunity to learn specifics about establishing an intracardiac robotics program and hands-on laboratory work and discussions with surgeons sharing the best techniques in robotics.

Murphy has led the College since its creation in 2009 at Saint Joseph’s Hospital. The purpose of the College is to teach cardiac robotics to teams with a focus on patient centered intracardiac and revascularization procedures.  Murphy is a renowned pioneer in the field of robotic surgery, performing the state’s first robotic heart surgery at Saint Joseph’s in 2002. Last year, he achieved a world record after completing his 2,000th robotically assisted mitral valve surgery.

Robotically-assisted heart surgery is performed by a cardiac surgeon using a specially-designed computer to control surgical instruments on thin robotic arms that are inserted into a patient’s torso through small incisions. “By coming through the right chest with robotic technology and instrumentation, we are able to see the valve better and because we are able to see it better, we are able to perform more precise technical maneuvers to repair valves,” says Halkos.

“What the patient sees is fast recovery out of the hospital, typically three days,” says Murphy, explaining another benefit of this type of minimally invasive heart surgery.

In addition to repairing mitral and tricuspid valves, surgeons can also remove tumors and repair holes in the heart during robotic surgery.

Paul Modi, MD, a surgeon from Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital who has trained extensively with Murphy, recently performed the U.K.’s first cardiac robotic heart procedure with his assistance after the Intracardiac Robotics Conference.