Remote telepresence surgery: the Canadian experience
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On 28 February 2003, the world's first telerobotic surgical service was established between St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, a teaching hospital affiliated with McMaster University, and North Bay General Hospital, a community hospital 400 km away. The service was designed to provide telerobotic surgery and assistance by expert surgeons to local surgeons in North Bay, and to improve the range and quality of advanced laparoscopic surgeries offered locally. The two surgeons have collaboratively performed 22 remote telepresence surgeries including laparoscopic fundoplications, laparoscopic colon resections, and laparoscopic inguinal hernia repairs. This article describes the important lessons learned, including the telecommunication requirements, the impact from lack of haptic feedback, surgeons' adaptation to latency, and ethical and medicolegal issues. This is currently the largest clinical experience with assisted robotic telepresence surgery (ARTS) in the world, and the lessons learned will help guide the future design and development of telesurgical robotic platforms. It also will guide the establishment of telesurgical networks connecting various centers in the world, allowing for rapid and safe dissemination of new surgical techniques.
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