CLINICAL RESEARCH: Surgeons at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton have successfully carried out the UK’s first robotically-assisted open heart surgery.

The Royal Wolverhampton Trust is only the third centre in Europe to perform these robotic procedures, joining hospitals in Finland and Sweden using the £1m Davinci Robot.

It has been used twice in the past week to repair a hole in the heart of a 25-year-old woman and to carry out a repair to heart valves in a 43-year-old man.

The Davinci robot allows surgeons to operate remotely using hi-definition 3D magnified screens while controlling the robotic arms.

Unlike usual heart operations involving a large incision and division of the breast bone the Davinci Robot allows instruments to be inserted into the chest through incisions between the ribs.

It means minimal scarring, less trauma for the patient, shorter stays in hospital, reduced bleeding and drug use and a reduced risk of infection.

New Cross Hospital acquired the Da Vinci robot 18 months ago, and it has already been used for operations in the abdomen and pelvis.

Over the last six months a cardiac team including surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses have undergone extensive training in using it for heart operations.