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An Indian surgeon has recently been the first to successfully perform heart surgery on a patient lying on the operating table over 20 miles away. This is the first case of surgery where robots have largely assisted the procedure, allowing the head surgeon in the operation to be miles away from the patient.

The United States military has also invested resources into remote robotic surgery. The effort is to be able to take better care of wounded soldiers on remote battlefields.

The CorPath GRX robot, developed by Corindus, assisted the surgeon with conducting a percutaneous coronary intervention, a procedure often used on patients with atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition where plaque builds up inside a person’s arteries which could eventually lead to clogging of the arteries.

The CorPath GRX robot assisted Dr. Tejas Patel by inserting small instruments into the patient’s blood vessels in the heart in order to open them. 

The robot is operated via multiple joysticks and screens that the surgeon utilizes in order to perform surgery. The robot was connected to Patel’s remote workstation through a high speed internet connection. The operating room was also fitted with additional cameras, allowing Patel additional footage of the procedure. 

Dr. Patel has mentioned his appreciation towards being part of such a milestone in the world of telemedicine and telerobotics. Popularmechanics.com reports that telemedicine has been considered an inexpensive alternative towards traditional forms of medicine, granting people access to complex surgeries and experienced surgeons in areas where there may be a lack of doctors. NASA has even looked into telemedicine as a way to support the medical needs of astronauts onboard the International Space Station.