Over the past 2 decades, robots have been increasingly used in surgeries to help overcome human limitations and perform precise and accurate tasks. Endovascular robots were pioneered in interventional cardiology, however, the CorPath GRX was recently approved by the FDA for peripheral vascular and extracranial interventions. The authors aimed to evaluate the operational learning curve for robot-assisted carotid artery stenting over a period of 19 months at a single institution.
A retrospective analysis of a prospectively maintained database was conducted, and 14 consecutive patients who underwent robot-assisted carotid artery stenting from December 2019 to June 2021 were identified. The metrics for proficiency were the total fluoroscopy and procedure times, contrast volume used, and radiation dose. To evaluate operator progress, the patients were divided into 3 groups of 5, 4, and 5 patients based on the study period.
A total of 14 patients were included. All patients received balloon angioplasty and stent placement. The median degree of stenosis was 95%. Ten patients (71%) were treated via the transradial approach and 4 patients (29%) via the transfemoral approach, with no procedural complications. The median contrast volume used was 80 mL, and the median radiation dose was 38,978.5 mGy/cm2. The overall median fluoroscopy and procedure times were 24.6 minutes and 70.5 minutes, respectively. Subgroup analysis showed a significant decrease in these times, from 32 minutes and 86 minutes, respectively, in group 1 to 21.9 minutes and 62 minutes, respectively, in group 3 (p = 0.002 and p = 0.008, respectively).
Robot-assisted carotid artery stenting was found to be safe and effective, and the learning curve for robotic procedures was overcome within a short period of time at a high-volume cerebrovascular center.