Glasgow-based MedTech company CardioPrecision has emerged as a key player in advancing the world’s first robotic aortic valve replacement procedure through a tiny incision in the neck, a development that could revolutionise cardiac surgery.

Aortic valve replacement is a procedure whereby the failing aortic valve of a patient’s heart is replaced with an artificial heart valve.

The startup, which originated from the NHS through InnoScot Health, recently showcased a proof-of-concept procedure, dubbed AVATAR (Advanced Videoscopic Aortic valve surgery by Transcervical Approach using Robot-assistance), in Chicago.

This demonstrated successfully on human cadavers and marks a significant leap towards clinical implementation while bolstering CardioPrecision’s foothold in the United States, according to the company. 

Prof Rowan Parks, president of Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh noted:

“There is clearly vast potential here and it is exciting to see a Glasgow company helping to lead the way while putting Scotland firmly on the map for this pioneering approach,”

“Robotic cardiac surgery is much less invasive than open-heart surgery. Fundamentally, it removes the necessity of the surgeon having to cut through the breastbone to open the chest, in turn removing many access-related complications,”

Dr Ying Sutherland, chief executive of CardioPrecision, added:

“The main benefit of performing surgery via the transcervical approach – making a small incision in the neck – is that this is a very well circulated area that heals quickly with little or no pain. Most operations done through the neck are performed as day cases.  

The development comes on the backdrop of increased use of robotics in surgery of all types. In 2021, the Scottish government announced a £20 million investment into 10 surgical robots

One of the professors involved pointed out that cardiac surgery is a little slower in adoption compared to other types of surgery in the uptake in robotics.

Prof Husam Balkhy at the University of Chicago said:

“I am confident that this new approach will add to the possibilities for cardiac surgeons to offer patients the least invasive option”

“As with the introduction of any new surgical procedure, patient safety remains paramount, so it is important that it is tested rigorously at all stages before actual implementation, but we are excited by the possibilities,” concluded Balkhy.