The Italian Almanac

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Italian Science - April 5

An Italian surgeon has created a robot able to correct one of the heart's most common defects. Carlo Pappone of Milan's San Raffaele Institute has developed software based on surgical experience that enables the robot to turn off the tiny electrical discharges which cause atrial fibrillation, a widespread form of irregular heart beat.

He has already used the robot on 40 patients in Milan and says it is ready for its biggest stride yet - a long-distance operation from Boston to Milan. The experiment will take place on May 17, with much of the world's media looking on. Pappone is confident his robot will pass the test with flying colors.

"The robot has 'learned' to carry out procedures based on the experience of 10,000 operations - an expertise that has been condensed into the software, enabling the robot to recognize all types of patients and exactly the right method to use," Pappone says.

Pappone's robot work appears in the latest edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.