Surgeon performs cardiovascular procedures on patients 20 miles away

Marie Donlon
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A surgeon in India conducted what is being touted as the first long-distance heart surgery.

Dr. Tejas Patel of the Apex Heart Institute in Ahmedabad, India, performed five percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedures on patients with plaque build-up in their blood vessels, restricting their blood flow, a condition called atherosclerosis.

Using the CorPath GRX robot developed by robotics company Corindus, Dr. Patel remotely guided the robot to insert stents into the hearts of the patients to open up the blood vessels and improve blood flow.

Identical remote workstations were set up 20 miles apart, connecting the robot in the operating room and Dr. Patel via high-speed internet connection. The operating room with the patients had cameras set up, feeding real-time footage to Dr. Patel. Additionally, a pair of surgeons were located inside the actual operating room to supervise the procedures.

Surgeons and other health care workers are increasingly turning to telemedicine, which combines robotics, mixed reality and communications to supply medical expertise in remote locations. Telemedicine could one day be used to address nurse, doctor and other medical personnel shortages.

"Remote procedures have the potential to transform how we deliver care when treating the most time-sensitive illnesses such as heart attack and stroke. The success of this study paves the way for large-scale, long-distance telerobotic platforms across the globe, and its publication in Lancet’s EClinicalMedicine demonstrates the transformative nature of telerobotics,” said Mark Toland, president and chief executive officer of Corindus Vascular Robotics.

A paper titled Long Distance Telerobotic-Assisted Percutaneous Coronary Intervention: First-in-Human Experience detailing the procedures was published in the Lancet’s EClinicalMedicine journal.

Surgeon performs cardiovascular procedures on patients 20 miles away