An Indian heart surgeon became the first person to operate a patient remotely, from a distance of 20 miles away (32 km).
The helping tool that made this possible was the Corindus CorPath CRX telerobot, which features astonishing movement precision, to the sub-millimeter level.
The operation that was carried out is called “percutaneous coronary intervention” (PCI), and it’s a standard way to treat the stenosis of the coronary arteries.
The CorPath GRX robot followed its controller’s guidance to insert a small instrument called “stent” into the blood vessel that had the narrowing problem. While the procedure is not considered to be very difficult for surgeons, it was a solid first step on our way to telerobotic operations. Dr. Tejas Patel, who performed the procedure in Gujarat, expressed his gratitude for this chance to become part of a medical milestone. Moreover, he stated his belief that telerobotics will have a hugely positive impact on healthcare in general.
From a technical and practical perspective, robots are very precise in their movements, can offer multiple cameras from various angles so that the surgeon can evaluate something much better, and can perform movements that the human skeleton and arms limitations make impossible. For example, the robotic arm can reach places that are impossible for a human to access, while it can rotate and cut in ways that a person’s wrist can’t. Finally, it can operate in conditions where radiation is a concern, protecting the staff and doctors from harmfull exposure to it.
What Does the Future Hold
How long are we from these robot-assisted operations being the standard in the field, and with this news concerning a delicate surgery, albeit an easy one, it looks like we’re close.
From now on, the adoption of such systems will be a matter of cost, training, and safety (cybersecurity). Other than that, we are already at a point where what’s practically possible with robots covers most of our surgical needs.