Preclinical Mayo Clinic study to investigate off-site, robotic-assisted coronary procedures

By Dave Muoio

A newly announced collaboration between the Mayo Clinic and Corindus Vascular Robotics may pave the way for off-site coronary procedures. The partnership, backed by a recent grant awarded to the clinic, will take the form of a multi-phase preclinical investigation of the feasibility of telestenting — robotic percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedures conducted remotely.

PCI is a non-surgical procedure in which physicians enter the bloodstream through the groin or wrist to expand narrowing coronary arteries. The procedure can stave off the need for open-heart surgery, but requires trained specialists to manually insert a balloon catheter and, in many cases, a stent into the blocked coronary artery.

Corindus currently offers the second generation of its CorPath GRX System, which is cleared for robotic-assisted PCI in cardiac catheter labs. Normally, this system has the interventional cardiologist sitting at a nearby radiation-shielded workstation to control catheters, stents, and guidewires throughout the procedure.

The newly announced partnership, however, will be exploring whether these procedures can be conducted safely and effectively off site. Doing so could provide a means to better manage coronary artery disease among rural or other underserved populations worldwide.

"We are delighted to work on critical research for remote robotics with Mayo Clinic,” Mark Toland, president and CEO of Corindus, said in a statement. “While PCI is the initial focus for this development program, our long-term goal is to extend this capability to the remote treatment of endovascular disease and stroke. Corindus is committed to developing a high tech cardiovascular model that improves efficiency, integrates the latest technology, and ultimately improves patient care. Telestenting is at the core of this strategy.”

The multi-phase, multi-year study will be headed by Dr. Mackram F. Eleid, an interventional cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic. Its first phase is supported by a $3.3 million grant awarded to the health institute from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

"Mayo Clinic has been a pioneer in leveraging telehealth to diagnose patients in remote locations,” Eleid told MobiHealthNews in an email. “We believe remote robotics has the potential to allow us to provide timely care to these patients and to potentially transform interventional cardiology.”