Remote Gallbladder Operation Spans 3,800 Miles

September 20, 2001 | Source: Associated Press

Surgeons in New York have performed a gallbladder operation on a patient in France by remote control, sending high-speed signals to robotic surgical tools. The doctors say it is the first complete surgery done with a robot controlled by doctors thousands of miles away.
Robotic surgery holds the promise of letting doctors operate remotely on soldiers on battlefields or even astronauts in space. It means that patients may eventually have access to top surgeons without having to travel.

But progress has been limited by delays between a surgeon’s order to a robot to move and when the robot obeyed, as well as the need to provide clear images of the operation to surgeons at the remote site.

The problem was solved by a fiber optic link developed by France Télécom that let signals arrive with an average delay of 150 milliseconds.

More info: Nature Sept. 27.