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Next week, a heart bypass procedure assisted by a robot will break new medical ground in Israel.

The highly advanced robot technology has been applied in surgical procedures at a few medical centers around the globe and the use of the $600,000 dollar robot use next week at Beilinson Hospital, Petah Tikva, will mark a first for Israel.

In this first phase, the use of the robot will be limited to heart bypass operations in which it will insert a miniature camera in the patient's chest.

Helped by pictures broadcast by the camera on a screen, the chief surgeon will give orders to the robot, and proceed with the operation. With the robot's assistance, the bypass procedure is can be done without temporarily stopping the heartbeat - such a pulse-pause has been the norm in bypass operations.

Beilinson Hospital directors said the Health Ministry had approved use of the robot technology. Next week's operation is to be performed by a cardiac surgery team that took special training courses abroad in manipulating the robot.