A doctor in India performed robot assisted heart surgery on five patients who were 20 miles away from him during the procedure, according to an article published Tuesday in medical journal EClinicalMedicine.
The patients had single, type A coronary artery lesions, and had no procedural complications or difficult events that occurred during the surgery, per the journal. Telemedicine is the practice of caring for patients remotely. Modern technology has enabled doctors to consult patients by using HIPAA compliant video-conferencing tools, but surgery from a distance is a first.
Dr. Tejas Patel, Chairman and Chief Interventional Cardiologist at the Apex Heart Institute in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, and author of the study, said treating for heart disease can be difficult if patients live in remote and undeveloped areas. But with doctors opting for robot-assisted heart surgery, this will disrupt healthcare delivery systems in the country for good.
“Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) with balloon angioplasty and stent placement is the standard of care for treating atherosclerotic coronary artery lesions,” he wrote. “However, the availability of hospitals with cardiac catheterization facilities and trained interventionalists is extremely limited in remote and underdeveloped areas. As a result, very few patients receive therapy.
“Thus, a real need exists to expand patient accessibility to revascularization procedures such as PCI. This need is underscored by the steadily decreasing number of trained interventional cardiologists.”