MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Open heart surgery doesn’t necessarily mean opening the chest anymore. The University of Minnesota’s new hybrid operating room allows surgeons to do things you probably only thought about happening in sci-fi movies.

At first glance, it looks like most hospital operating rooms. Then you hear what can happen here and realize it’s, well, cool.

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Surgeons and cardiologists can work together in the University of Minnesota’s Hybrid OR.

“In the hybrid, we typically don’t need to open patients’ chests. We can use robotics,” Dr. Kenneth Liao said.

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The technology allows almost 75 percent less radiation exposure during X-ray based procedures. It also gives doctors a combination of ultrasound and echo technology, as well as the ability to display a patient’s previous CT and MRI images, which can eliminate some surgical incisions.

“For patients who have complicated coronary artery disease, we can do a robotic-assisted procedure where there are three small incisions on the chest. And some of the arteries that a surgical robot cannot reach, we can go ahead and stent,” Dr. Gladwin Das said. “So the patient is asleep, everything is done, (the patient) wakes up with small incisions. It’s safer, a shorter hospital stay and an early discharge.”

That’s a win for patients and for their teams of doctors, making this operating room one of the most cutting-edge in the country, thanks to both the technology and the doctors who are excited to see what the room is capable of doing.

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The center opened in October. So far, the hybrid OR cannot take emergency cases, but training is in the works.