Hospital Tests Lag Time for Remote Surgery 12,000 Miles Away

Doctors may be able to perform surgery across the world or in space.

(July 15, 2015) – Celebration, FL

Roger Smith, CTO of Florida Hospital Nicholson Center in Celebration, FL, tested lag times created by the internet between his facility and one in Ft. Worth, TX for potential remote surgery. The lag times were negligible and ranged from 30 to 150 milliseconds. The next step is to test lag times for “telesurgery” in Denver and also Loma Linda, Calif. In the future, it is possible doctors might perform surgery across the world or even in space. According to Lucas Mearian of Computer World, Dr. Smith indicated that limitations to doing this are no longer due to lag time but factors associated with:

  • Reliability
  • Social Acceptance
  • Insurance
  • Legal Liability

“These results indicate that modern, well-connected facilities possess the communication bandwidth needed to safely perform telesurgery today,” Smith said. “It appears that we have the technology, but we are still waiting for business cases and regulatory permissions to open the door for telesurgery.” The published study can be found here. The Nicholson Center’s telemedicine tests are funded by a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. A “trauma pod” that could facilitate remote surgery has been in development by SRI International and DARPA since 2005.

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