Telementoring Between Brazil and the United States: Initial Experience
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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: To assess the safety and feasibility of transcontinental telementored and telepresence surgery, we report on two procedures carried out with participation by surgeons in Baltimore in the United States and São Paulo and Recife in Brazil. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Over a period of 3 months, a laparoscopic bilateral varicocelectomy and a percutaneous renal access for a percutaneous nephrolithotomy were performed. The mentoring surgeon (LRK) was the same for both procedures. He used a 650-MHz personal computer fitted with a Z360 video COder/ DECoder (CODEC) and a Z208 communication board (Zydacron Corp, Manchester, NH) that comprise the core of the telesurgical station. In the first case, a surgical robot, AESOP 3000 (Computer Motion Inc.), was attached to a laparoscope, and the remote surgeon drove the robot via a controller on the remote computer. In the second case, another robot (Percutaneous Access to the Kidney; PAKY) was used for percutaneous needle placement into the renal collecting system. RESULTS: The two procedures were completed successfully. In the first case, the operative time was 25 minutes, with minimal estimated blood loss. The patient was discharged home the next day. At 3-month follow-up, there was no scrotal pain or varicocele. In the second case, access to the urinary tract was achieved with the first needle pass, and percutaneous nephrolithotomy was uneventful. Blood loss was minimal, and the patient was discharged home on the second postoperative day. At 3-month follow-up, the patient was free of urinary stones and of symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: The first transcontinental telementored and telepresence urologic surgical procedures have been reported previously. The success observed with the novel surgical techniques has motivated great interest. The cases reported here demonstrate that several types of procedures can be mentored safely and effectively with telemedicine technology.