The Nicholson Center at Florida Hospital, which trains doctors to use the latest medical technology, including robots, has been testing the latency between communication-rich environments, such as hospital campuses.
Early results have led researchers to a conclusion that is either astounding or not at all surprising, depending on the depth of your knowledge about network latency and the recent progress of robotic surgery. It turns out that telesurgery, in which a surgeon in one location performs an operation in another with the aid of a robot, could quite easily be practiced today with existing technology. I, for one, was astounded.
“We didn’t know if we could stay below the necessary thresholds in terms of latency,” says Dr. Roger Smith, CTO of the Nicholson Center, referring to the delay between the moment information is transmitted and the moment it is received. “But it turns out that today’s internet has no trouble beating those thresholds. So the barrier to telesurgery really isn’t in the technology, but elsewhere.”
The burgeoning field of robotic surgery is dominated by Intuitive Surgical, which makes the da Vinci Surgical System. Intuitive received FDA clearance for the da Vinci in 2000, though at that time it wasn’t clear how readily surgeons would adopt the new technology or how patients would react to it. But the da Vinci proved its usefulness early on by reducing complications associated with prostate removal. Because of the position of the prostate, surgeons have to enter through the abdomen and then tunnel down to reach it. The invasiveness of the procedure carries high risks, and two common complications are incontinence and impotence. The da Vinci uses long pencil-like rods in place of a surgeon’s hands, meaning surgeries performed with it are less invasive and significantly reducing complications and recovery times.
Hundreds of thousands of surgeries are now conducted with da Vinci systems each year–virtually every prostate patient with a choice opts for it–and robotic surgery has quickly passed the crucial adoption threshold. Intuitive Surgical now has an $18.2B market cap. Interestingly, many of the patents that Intuitive acquired when constructing the da Vinci came from tech developed with funding from the Department of Defense. It makes sense. The military has a huge interest in robotic surgery. In combat, evacuating casualties to a state of the art medical facility can be exceedingly difficult. But neither is it practical to staff combat hospitals with the necessary array of surgical specialists. The best answer seems to lie in a robotic surgical device that can be operated remotely by an expert surgeon who is perhaps based hundreds of miles away. The da Vinci was a major step toward that vision, but it’s taken longer to clear the network hurdles necessary to make remote surgery viable.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.zdnet.com
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