Telesurgery is a new approach to surgical care in which a surgeon performs operations using a surgical robot and advanced computer technology on a patient located miles away.
Timothy Broderick, MD, assistant professor of surgery at UC and medical director for its Center for Surgical Innovation (CSI), is leading the first test of a prototype communications platform for mobile telesurgery: the High Altitude Platforms for Mobile Robotic Telesurgery (HAPsMRT).
This two-phase telesurgery experiment takes place between Simi Valley, California--a desolate and arid area surrounded by hills and plains--and Seattle, Washington, June 59.
The HAPsMRT model--developed in collaboration with the U.S. Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center and the University of Washington--uses an unmanned airborne vehicle (UAV), or "drone," as the communications connecting point between a surgeon in one part of the country and a patient located hundreds of miles away.
Current telesurgery tools rely on satellite communication and streaming video delivered via high-speed Internet. In remote locations, explains Dr. Broderick, satellite signals are not always dependable and can result in delays that make surgery difficult.
"Reliable, high-speed communication signals are critical for telesurgery to work in day-to-day patient care," explains Dr. Broderick. "Our ultimate goal is to eliminate the communications lag to enable the surgeon to safely operate on a remote patient in real time."
HAPsMRT utilizes low-latency communication transmissions, so the communication signals travel over a shorter distance and with fewer delays.