For the first time on the West Coast, surgeons from the Keck School of Medicine of USC used a robot to perform two endovascular procedures on two separate patients on Sept. 30.

“It was a success and we are excited about its prospects in more complex endovascular procedures,” said Sung Wan Ham, MD, assistant professor of surgery, division of vascular surgery, who performed the back to back angioplasty and stenting of an occluded femoral artery using the Magellan robot.

Endovascular procedures use minimally-invasive techniques that typically involve manipulating a guide wire and preformed catheters through blood vessels to access different parts of the body. This process can be difficult and lengthy, particularly in patients with challenging vascular anatomy.

The robot allows the physician to control a guide wire, catheter, and supporting sheath from a centralized remote workstation. This allows for precise navigation even through difficult bends in the vasculature, which can reduce procedure times.

Shortening the time in the endovascular suite, noted Ham, benefits both patients and surgeons by reducing the amount of time they are exposed to radiation, from imaging equipment.

Fred Weaver, MD, MMM, chief of the division of vascular surgery and endovascular therapy, said the technology is a boon for patients at Keck Medicine of USC, which is the fifth medical center in the U.S., and the first on the west coast, to have this type of robot. “We are literally on the cutting edge of the endo applications with this,” said Weaver.

Weaver added there are potentially more applications for this robot, including coiling aneurysms in the brain, assisting with chemoembolization and to help urologists navigate the ureter.

For now, the robot is only being used for endovascular procedures and the outcomes so far are heartening. The lack of blood flow in his legs, a result of his blockage, prevented Ham’s first patient from walking at times. Afterward, Ham found a pulse in his patient’s foot that wasn’t there before.

“We are very excited by the outcome of this initial procedure. We hope many more patients will benefit from this technology,” he said.

— By Hope Hamashige