Minimally Invasive and Robotic Cardiac Surgery

It has been the dream of cardiac surgeons to perform cardiac procedures in the closed chest that would offer patients the same benefits as those that open-incision procedures do, and the highly sophisticated surgical robotic technology has made the dream come true.

In late 2006, the PLA General Hospital took the lead to introduce the da Vinci S Surgical System for the first time in China, which heralded the beginning of a new chapter in minimally invasive and robotic cardiac surgery in China.

Operated through tiny incisions in the chest with the control of the robotic arms and miniature cameras, minimally invasive and robotic cardiac surgery requires exquisite surgical techniques and skills and extreme caution. As the first mover in China, Dr. Changqing Gao takes it his responsibility to develop this technology and benefit more patients though moving from traditional open cardiac surgery to robotically assisted cardiac surgery in China for the first time posed tremendous challenges in front of him and his surgical team. With a tireless dedication and an unceasing passion, Dr. Gao and the surgical team have always been committed to overcoming the difficulties and hardships and to achieving the best surgical results for the patients.

The Robotic Cardiac Surgical Team at the PLA General Hospital

On January 15, 2007, the first case of totally robotic cardiac surgery in China was successfully performed by Dr. Gao and his team. In 2008, The 1st Beijing International Symposium and Workshop on Robotic Cardiac Surgery (BISROS 2008) was successfully held, and the first Minimally Invasive & Robotic Cardiac Surgery Center in China was established at the PLA General Hospital. In 2010, the International Cooperation & Research Center of Robotic Cardiac Surgery was founded, and The 2nd Beijing International Symposium on Robotic Cardiac Surgery (BISROS 2010) attracted hundreds of the attendees from home and abroad. In 2012, the Asian Society of Robotic Surgery (ASRS) was founded at the PLA General Hospital with the promotion of Dr. Gao and other 11 renowned professors and experts in cardiac surgery, general surgery, urology, GI surgery etc in Asia. The National Training Center for Robotic Cardiac Surgery was established by the Ministry of Health of China, and the International Training Center for da Vinci Surgery was accredited by Intuitive Surgical of the USA at the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery. 20 robotic surgical teams mainly from Brazil, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and other countries and districts successfully completed their robotic surgical training programs at the Center. The 3rd Beijing International Symposium and Workshop on Robotic Cardiac Surgery (BISROS 2012), which highlighted live surgeries and keynote lectures on cardiac surgery, thoracic surgery, general surgery, gynaecology, hepatology, urology, and surgical oncology was also a great success. In 2013, the National Center for International Research was authorised by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China. Robotic Cardiac Surgery, “a comprehensive academic compilation of experience with robotic surgery in all phases of cardiac surgery as well as an extensively illustrated manual of how to do robotic cardiac surgery for several forms of acquired and congenital heart diseases”, authored by Changqing Gao MD was published, which “will be a landmark in presenting large clinical results of conventional operations treated by robotic technology”.

Overseas Trainees at the Center

After working persistently with da Vinci Surgical Systems for 7 years, the robotic surgical team at the PLA General Hospital have utilized the System to its maximum potential - performing all of the various different 24 types of cardiac surgery of which the system is capable. As a single center, the PLA General Hospital has always been standing at the forefront of the minimally invasive and robotic cardiac surgery, and has created new surgical techniques that no surgeons used before in other countries. In 2012, The National Technical Specification for Robotic-assisted Cardiac Surgery of the Ministry of Health of China has been drafted by the surgical team at the PLA General Hospital.

The surgical team at the PLA General Hospital now has the richest world experience in robotic cardiac surgery and performs primarily the following procedures:

  • Robotic Coronary Bypass Graft on Beating Heart
  • Robotic Mitral Valve Surgery
  • Robotic Surgery in Congenital Heart Diseases
  • Totally Robotic Myxoma Excision
  • Robotic Left Ventricular Epicardial Lead Implantation

As of January 2014, all of the 700 cases of robotic cardiac surgery had all been successfully completed with excellent surgical outcomes.

From the first case success on January 15, 2007 to the 100 cases success commemoration in July 2008, and further to today’s over 700 cases landmark, the surgical team at the PLA General Hospital have shown their gallantry in innovation, expertise and contribution. They have pioneered minimally invasive and robotic cardiac surgery in China, succeeded far beyond the technology for robotic surgery and accomplished so much that earned the recognition of colleagues and amazed the world.