Advance with MUSC Health

Robotic Heart Surgery

Advance With MUSC Health
February 22, 2021
Dr. Arasi Maran, Cardiology

Each February, MUSC Health joins in the celebration of American Heart Month, and focusing on your heart health has never been more important. People with poor cardiovascular health are also at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. But, there's a lot you can do to prevent heart disease, a leading cause of death in the United States. Throughout the month, MUSC Health will be sharing heart health tips to inspire and motivate you and those you love to make heart health a regular part of your routine.

Anbukarasi Maran, M.D., Assistant Professor of Cardiology at MUSC, an interventional cardiologist, specializes in threading tiny wires, called catheters, through a patient's blood vessels to open blockages and restore blood flow. To do this, she relies on imaging equipment that shows her where the wires are and guides them to the right destination. Unfortunately, traditional catheterization equipment emits low levels of radiation that, while harmless for patients who are only exposed for a short time, can accumulate in physicians and staff who are exposed daily. Robotic technology eliminates that risk. "We used to wear lead jackets that weighed about fifteen pounds while we leaned over the patient for three or four hours at a time," says Maran. "Now, the robot stands beside the patient while we sit in a lead-lined cubicle and use a joy-stick to drive the wires. It reduces our radiation exposure by ninety-five percent and lets us focus completely on the patient and the procedure." Not only is the robot capable of more refined movements than the human hand, allowing much greater precision, but it also provides better imaging.

"Young women used to avoid interventional cardiology because of the high radiation exposure. They were afraid that if they got pregnant there might be fetal radiation exposure," Maran says. Now that robotic technology has moved physicians and staff out of harm's way, perhaps more women will follow in her footsteps.