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FDA clears robotic device to assist cardiologists

The CorPath 200 by Corindus Vascular Robotics is the first to help cardiologists restore blood flow to blocked arteries while minimizing radiation exposure.

Radiation exposure is an occupational hazard for cardiologists performing a procedure called percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI -- better known as angioplasty), which helps restore blood flow to blocked arteries in patients with coronary artery disease. Lead aprons help, but they're not perfect, and they're heavy enough to take a toll.

The CorPath 200 System puts cardiologists inside a lead-lined cockpit to minimize radiation exposure. Corindus Vascular Robotics

Now a new system that employs robot-assisted stent and balloon placements to restore blood flow has received FDA clearance this week. Called CorPath 200, it allows cardiologists to work from inside a lead-lined cockpit, not only minimizing their radiation exposure but also improving their view of the angiography screen.

"In the past, we have relied on heavy lead aprons to protect us from radiation, but the physical stress of wearing these aprons can lead to back pain, fatigue, and orthopedic injuries," Joseph P. Carrozza Jr., chief of cardiovascular medicine at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Boston, said in a news release. "Robot-assisted PCI procedures allow us to provide our patients with the highest quality of care working in an ergonomic position."

Developed by Corindus Vascular Robotics, CorPath 200 is the first of its kind to receive FDA clearance. The approval comes on the heels of a study, the CorPath PRECISE Trial, which demonstrated a 97.6 percent success rate. It also showed that the system reduced radiation exposure by 95 percent.

"As interventional cardiologists, we perform our procedures using X-ray guidance and are cognizant that throughout our careers, we will be exposed to a high amount of radiation," Carrozza added. "The FDA clearance of the CorPath System will truly change the way I am able to practice."

Another cardiologist, Giora Weisz, an associate professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, said that in experimenting with the system, the interventional devices allowed for very precise movements in increments as small as one millimeter.

With a little training, robot-assisted PCI may soon be the new norm, and those heavy lead aprons a relic of a radiated past.