Future Tense

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Technology: 3-D Robotic Motion Compensation System for mitral valve repair.

Manufacturer: In testing phase at Harvard University and Children's Hospital Boston.

Purpose: Allows surgeons to perform a traditional mitral-valve repair while the heart continues to beat.

How it works: A hollow needle inserted into the heart is used to place small anchors into the organ and affix them to the tissue surrounding the mitral valve. The anchors are then pulled together by a suture wire to decrease the size of the valve opening. 3-D ultrasound images are used to predict and compensate for the motion of the heart so that the surgeon can work on the mitral valve as it moves. Data from the 3-D ultrasound images is analyzed using software that can predict where heart tissue will be approximately 70 milliseconds to 100 milliseconds in the future, allowing the position of the tip of the handheld surgical tool to be adjusted.

Potential Improvement: Unlike traditional mitral-valve repair, the procedure does not involve opening up the heart. Researchers say that performing the surgery while the heart beats reduces the risk of long-term cognitive deficits, shortens recovery time, and potentially increases surgeon dexterity.

What's Next: Preliminary animal trials have begun. Researchers are also testing how to add more sensors, such as electrocardiograms and force sensors.

Kathryn Mackenzie

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