Telerobotic surgery promises considerable advances for all kinds of surgery
The significant evolution of robot-powered surgery into telerobotic surgery delivers advanced technological solutions to many inherent limitations of laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery has forced a reassessment of mechanisms to bring new surgical procedures into modern surgical practice. Tele-operated robotic surgery is paving its way to becoming part of clinical care. The incursion of 5G, along with other advances in robotics and telemedicine solutions is sending this surgery practice to a next level.
Already, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, robotics, high-speed data connections, information management systems and more, are revolutionizing the healthcare ecosystem. These technologies are giving the ability to medical experts or specialized surgeons to deliver improved patient care from anywhere in the world and be available for them every time.
Considering reports, the first successful telerobotic medical practice on a human was performed in 1995 in Italy. This was used for a prostate biopsy to a patient located five kilometers away using a robotic telemanipulator. Six years later, a true long-distance fully controlled remote surgery powered by high speed, high bandwidth communications and adequate computational power was introduced. A French surgeon in New York City in September 2001 performed a cholecystectomy, the first complete remote surgery, on a 68-year-old female patient 6,230 km away in Strasbourg, France.
On the other side, an Ahmedabad-based cardiologist Dr. Tejal Patel performed the first-ever telerobotic operation on a middle-aged woman. With this, India became the world’s first to successfully perform a telerobotic coronary intervention, a robotic method of performing surgery. He performed the intervention by operating robotic-controlled instruments from a distance of 32 km.
Promise of Telerobotics
An integral part of the broader field of telemedicine, telerobotics makes procedures like surgeries, treatments and diagnoses easier, affordable and more convenient. This is typically conducted across short or long distances via wired or wireless communication networks. Surgery practices using tele-operated robotic systems are expected to soon make expensive, complicated surgeries much more accessible to patients of all types from around the globe. According to reports, the US Department of Defense (DoD) seeks to have a Trauma Pod by 2025, which would enable surgeons to perform operations on soldiers from a distance. It is also predicted that remote surgery might be used for long space exploration missions in the future.
Advantages of Robotic-Assisted Surgery
Robotic-assisted surgery can be practiced for a range of surgeries, including Colorectal surgery, General surgery, Gynecologic surgery, Heart surgery, Endometriosis, Transoral surgery, Thoracic surgery, Urologic surgery, and more. Using robotic-assisted systems for these kinds of surgeries provide many benefits to both surgeons and patients. With robotic-assisted surgery, surgeons have better visualization, leading to more precise surgery. They have a greater range of motion and dexterity and can see a highly-magnified, high-resolution image of the operating field. For patients, robotics surgery allows shorter hospital stay, less risk of infection, less blood loss and fewer blood transfusions, less pain and faster recovery.
While telerobotic surgery currently is in the development phase, network connectivity, data privacy, medical licensing, regulatory compliance, reimbursement and clinical and patient acceptance can present significant impediments to the adoption of this solution. Hence, to address such issues and demonstrate future possibilities, Stereotaxis, the global leader in innovative robotic technologies, formed the Telerobotic Surgery Leadership Council. It is a consortium of physicians who use the technology as well as robotics companies that develop it.