Robotic angioplasty arrives at NGMC

GAINESVILLE -- A heart procedure with physician expertise and robotic precision is now available at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Hospital officials said in a recent news release that it's the first in the state to offer the procedure. Dr. J. Jeffrey Marshall, medical director of the cardiac catheterization labs at NGMC, said since the hospital was part of a clinical trial for the robotic equipment, its doctors already have more than a year of experience.

"This is the future of heart care, and it's already here, right now, in Gainesville, not Atlanta," said Marshall, who is also President of the Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions.

During the procedure, interventional cardiologists sit behind a "lead-shielded cockpit," instead of standing at a table during a traditional angioplasty.

Doctors use digital controls to control the device, called the CorPath 200 System, as it guides stents and balloons through a catheter and into a patient's arteries.

The benefits include improved precision, and extra set of "hands" that don't get tired during long procedures and less radiation exposure for doctors and staff.

"Robotic angioplasty may open the doors to new possibilities and more complex procedures as the technology evolves," said Dr. Mark Leimbach, chair of the Department of Cardiology at NGMC. "Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but the implementation of this new technology shows we are thinking outside the box, pushing the boundaries and doing everything we can to try to save the lives of heart patients."