Wed. Sep 27th, 2023

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Doctors at SSM Health are taking a hands-off approach with some heart surgeries, using the latest in technology to help patient recovery after the fact.

“Over the last 15-20 years, as technology has advanced and we have figured out a way to fix some, not all, some of the ailments of the heart without opening the chest,” said Dr. Ghulam Murtaza.

Dr. Murtaza says he and other heart surgeons can use robotic arms to operate for surgeries like mitral valve repair or addressing blocks in coronary arteries. The result is a far less invasive surgery, leading to a faster recovery. Instead of going in through the chest and opening the sternum, Dr. Murtaza says this method requires small incisions along the patient’s side.

From there, he uses long thin arms from the robot to operate on the heart, running things from the “control center,” which gives a 3D look at the surgery from inside, allowing for a VR-like look at what is happening, running the arms with controls and pedals without even touching the patient himself.

“The patients can resume their normal activities much sooner than there would, for example, if they had a big surgery,” said Dr. Murtaza. “We are the only ones in Dane County doing this and within a hundred-mile radius.”

Patients like Ron Cutrell say the recovery time after is shocking.

“I was only in the hospital after surgery four days,” said Cutrell. “It’s less invasive, and you can get back to activities quicker. I did; it really just blew my mind how quickly I really got back to doing things.”

Cutrell needed surgery back in November to repair a valve in his heart. After four days, he was out of the hospital. By January, he was back at work. In February, Cutrell was bowling a 247. And by May, Cutrell was hitting the softball field.

“I was excited because I wanted to get moving. I love my bowling. I love playing softball,” said Cutrell.

Dr. Murtaza says a year of training and operating on over 30 cadavers preempted the real deal at Saint Mary’s.

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