Dangerous Delays? The Trouble With Telsurgery



FLORIDA - BACKGROUND:  Robotic surgery is a type of minimally invasive surgery.  Instead of operating on patients through large incisions, doctors use miniaturized surgical instruments that can fit through series of quarter-inch incisions.  When surgery is performed with the robot, the instruments are mounted on three robotic arms.  The fourth arm contains a magnified high-definition 3D camera that will guide the surgeon during the procedure.   (Source: www.robotic-surgery.med.nyu.edu)

HOW IT WORKS: The surgeon controls the instruments and camera from a location in the operating room.  The doctors can place their fingers into the master controls to operate all four arms simultaneously.  Every movement made with the master controls is replicated precisely by the robot.  The surgeon can change the scale of the robot’s movements.  If the doctor selects a three-to-one scale, the tip of the robot’s arm moves one inch for every three inches the surgeon’s hand actually moves.  By using this technology, surgeons are able to perform a number of complex procedures.  This technology allows the patient to have fewer traumas on their bodies, minimal scarring, and faster recovery times. (Source: www.robotic-surgery.med.nyu.edu)

NEW TECHNOLOGY:  Robotic surgery is a huge breakthrough in medicine.  It was originally developed by the US Army and DARPA as a tool to enable telesurgery at a distance. Researchers are now looking for ways to perform surgery across transoceanic distances by using telecommunication technology.  An experiment at Florida Hospital Nicholson Center was carried out with the Mimic dV-Trainer (a simulator of the da Vinci robot), which was designed to insert defined levels of latency into the visual and command data streams between the operating field and a surgeon.  Participants were asked to perform four basic robotic surgical exercises.  The experiment measured the degradation of human surgical performance across a range of latency conditions.  The next phase of the research project will involve telesurgery exercises from city to city.  The DoD gave the Florida Hospital Nicholson Center a $4.2 million grant to understand how robotic surgery can be performed over long distances. (Source: www.floridahospitalnews.com)