The challenges of delivering reliable, safe surgery over a long-distance medium are numerous, but as technology improves, we’re able to do more and more with this branch of telemedicine.
An Introduction to Telesurgery
Traditionally, telemedicine is often said to refer to teleconsultation. A doctor reviews documents such as photos, x-rays, slides, or ECGs, and interacts with the patient to get a detailed feel of the situation. The doctor is then able to provide a diagnosis. Specialists will often use similar methods to provide their expert input on a course of treatment.
However, the main addition required to allow telesurgery is technology that allows for the “live” manipulation of the patient and his surroundings from a distance. Technology designed to achieve this possibility is said to provide “telemanipulation” capability.
The surgeon that wants to use telemanipulation technology must also have a detailed and realistic sensory input that makes him feel as if they are physically present at the remote site. The specialized technology that provides is deemed “telepresence” technology.
These are the key terms of telemedicine related to surgical operations, and now we will discuss the various methods that have been employed to achieve success in telesurgical operations.
Methods for Achieving Telesurgery
When surgical operation must be performed with the help of a long-distance care provider, several methods are available to the remote healthcare staff.
- Telepresence surgery is the most advanced, and this term refers to a system that transmits the surgeon’s actions while he sits at a remote surgical workstation. In addition to transmitting his movements, the system also provide haptic input (also called force feedback), which transmits the tactile information of the remote patient’s tissue back to the operating surgeon.
- Telerobotics transmits the surgeon’s movements, but doesn’t incorporate force feedback technology. This method is suitable for many operations.
- Telementoring requires the least advanced technology, but it can still be a tremendous help in emergency situations. In this case, an experienced surgeon will act as a guide for a less experienced surgeon who must perform a difficult or unusual procedure.
Benefits of Telesurgery
As this technology grows, it could be widely beneficial by reducing travel costs.
It could also allow specialists with highly valued skills to work internationally, bringing life-saving surgical procedures to patients all across the world. The benefits of telesurgery could even be used at extremely isolated locations, such as spacecraft and arctic research centers.
Hopefully we will continue to see the branch of telemedicine grow, as we continue into the 21st century of technology.