Yesterday, a cardiac surgeon in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, conducted a heart surgery 32 km away from where the patient was admitted.
Stationed at the Akshardham Swaminarayan Temple in the city, Dr Tejas Patel supervised a 20-minute procedure called “telestenting” on a patient at the Apex Heart Institute in the “world’s first ever in-human telerobotic coronary intervention procedure.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, Dr Patel described the patient as a woman in her 50s suffering “90% blockage in the arteries.”
After spending an entire day setting up the proverbial “command centre” inside the temple premises, Dr Patel sat in the ‘cockpit.’ With assistance from fellow cardiologist Dr Sanjay Shah (with whom he shares a 22-year-old professional relationship) and a technician, Dr Patel would go onto conduct a 20-minute percutaneous coronary intervention (formerly known as angioplasty with stent) procedure from a remote location.
With high-speed wireless internet, Dr Patel was connected to a robotic system set up inside the operation theatre. Operating the button carefully in his ‘cockpit,’ Dr Patel and his team cleaned up the patient’s arteries for “barely 5-10 minutes” and the inserted a stent, reports The Indian Express.
The patient is now healthy, and the doctors will look to discharge her today evening. Doctors have conducted the procedure for free “out of love and affection,” says Dr Patel, although its costs weren’t revealed. “This is the world’s first percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) conducted from a remote location outside of the catheterisation lab,” said a press release.
Using robotics and telecommunications to conduct surgeries from remote locations can revolutionise the Indian public health system provided it is affordable.
Governments must work together with the private sector to find low-cost solutions which can help citizens living in rural India a shot at receiving quality treatment.
“Existing barriers to care and growing poverty levels world over, only a fraction of patients had access to specialised and timely medical care and life-saving treatment,” says an international expert on the subject, speaking to the national publication.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)