When Mr. Prasad, a 55-year-old heart patient in need of a bypass, first heard of ‘robotic heart surgery, he assumed that it was only for the uber-rich. He also had his doubts about its safety, and thought only a gullible person would put their hearts in the hands of a machine.
Dr. M M Yusuf, Consultant – Cardiac Surgeon
Despite his doubts, Prasad enquired with Dr. M M Yusuf, a renowned cardiac surgeon, about this new concept. The eye-opening conversation that followed proved to be a life changing moment for Prasad, as it cleared all the misconceptions he had about Robotic and Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery. Prasad, who had initially wanted an open heart surgery funded by the Chief Minister’s scheme, instead opted for robot-assisted surgery, with his concerns on cost and safety now removed.
Prasad belongs to a middle class family and runs a petty-shop in his village. His socio-economic background meant he had worries about how expensive robot-assisted surgery would be. However, he did not realise that the costs he had to consider were not just that of the surgery, but also the acquired indirect costs of recovery. For instance, unlike open heart surgery which has a recuperation period of four months, patients who undertake robotic surgery stay in hospital for only 2 days with a recuperation period of two weeks. This made him realise that not only would robotic surgery help him save on the charges of extra hospital stay, but he could also get back to work much sooner. This both reduces medical expenses, including the extra medication required to treat open-surgery wounds and prevents having to stay at home to recover and lose out on months of income.
Prasad learnt that with the use of tiny instruments and robotically controlled tools, skilled surgeons like Dr. M M Yusuf are able to perform surgeries in a way that is far less invasive than open-heart surgery, or even non-robotic minimally invasive surgery. Open heart surgery demands long incisions in the chest to access the heart, and sometimes in the limbs to access veins for bypass. All that is required in robotic surgeries are two small holes and a 5 cm cut in the chest region. This means, barely noticeable pain, no scars and no risk of wound infections.
Prasad recently underwent a smooth robot-assisted surgery and, as expected, was discharged within two days. He is all set to open his petty shop in less than two weeks.
Dr. M M Yusuf, who performed the surgery, is one among the few Robotic and Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgeons in the world. Having graduated from Stanley Medical College, Chennai, Dr. M M Yusuf accomplished his basic and higher surgical training in the United Kingdom and was awarded the General FRCS by both Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities. Following that, he gained an additional specialised FRCS award in Cardiothoracic surgery. With triple FRCS qualifications to his name, he underwent higher surgical training in the University Hospitals of Wales in Cardiff and Swansea.
Dr. M M Yusuf practiced for over two decades in the UK as a cardiac surgeon. Though he is highly qualified in conventional heart surgeries including open heart surgery, his passion and unique specialisation lies in Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery (MICS), including Robotic Surgery. Having realised the potential of Robot-Assisted Cardiac Surgery early on in his career he undertook an exclusive fellowship program in Robotic & Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery, at the renowned Old Lady Victoria (OLV) Hospital in Aalst, Belgium.
A strong urge to serve his own country brought Dr. M M Yusuf back to India and his return has come as a boon for heart patients all over Asia. At present, thanks to Dr. M M Yusuf, India is one among five countries in the world that performs robotic-assisted cardiac surgery. Even many developed European and western countries still do not offer robotic cardiac surgery to their citizens, owing largely to lack of trained surgeons.
Dr. M M Yusuf says that robotic surgery can be performed for a number of different heart-related procedures, including valve surgery, coronary artery bypass surgery, repairing holes in the heart, and tumour removal. This surgical technique requires years of training and practice. Dr. M M Yusuf and his team are based at Apollo Hospitals, Greams Road, Chennai, and have been performing this procedure routinely with excellent outcomes. Buoyed by the success rate, Apollo Hospitals is soon introducing this technique with Dr. M M Yusuf at its facilities in New Delhi.
The future of heart surgeries is in the fusion of the skilled surgeon’s mind and the micro-precision of a robot. Thanks to Dr. M M Yusuf and his team at Apollo Hospitals, Greams Road, Chennai, India is taking the lead in providing our citizens with access to this future.