Surgeons operate on patient - 4,000 miles away


Surgeons have carried out a successful operation on a patient thousands of miles away in what's being hailed as a medical 'world first'.

A French team performed the surgery in New York - although the patient was on the other side of the Atlantic in Strasbourg, France.

The 45-minute gallbladder op - codenamed Operation Lindbergh - was made possible by telesurgery, which uses minimally invasive surgical techniques, broadband telecommunications and a state-of-the-art surgical robotics system.

It is the first time in the history of medicine that transmission time delays have been reduced enough to make a surgical procedure possible.

The surgeon controlled the arms of a ZeusO Robotic Surgical System, designed by Computer Motion, to operate on the patient. The link between the robotic system and the surgeon was provided by a high-speed fibre-optic service developed by France Telecom.

Professor Jacques Marescaux, who led the team, said: 'The demonstration of the feasibility of a trans-Atlantic procedure is a richly symbolic milestone. It lays the foundations for the globalisation of surgical procedures, making it possible to imagine that a surgeon could perform an operation on a patient anywhere in the world.'

The high speed fibre-optic service enabled the surgeon to work with virtually no time delay between the instant he manipulated the ZeusO robot controls in New York and saw the result on the patient in France.

Despite a distance of about 4,000 miles, it was necessary to keep a constant time delay of less than 200 milliseconds between the surgeon's movements and the return video image displayed on his screen.

A spokesman said the operation was a 'truly remarkable medical and technical feat'.

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