Future use of orthopedic robots: remote surgery

Let’s be real about robots. In orthopedics today, surgeons are only using the robot as a tool.  The robot may be more accurate, but the robot is not smart. It’s not AI.  It’s really just A (Artificial) without and I (Intelligence). We are decades away from robots doing the entire surgery. Don’t get your hopes up. 

However, let’s talk about the possibility of remote surgery using the robot as a tool. With better robotics and faster internet, we are close to an orthopedic surgeon performing the surgery from a distance.

In the future, a patient in Malaysia could get his hip replacement done by a surgeon at HSS without traveling to the US. Remote orthopedic surgery will become a reality befor robots are intelligent.

To get a better idea of what is possible, read the breakthrough story about remote heart surgery that just happened.

This is reprinted from Peter Diamandis newsletter, Abundance Insider. 

What it is: In a new coup for telemedicine, cardiologist Dr. Tejas Patel has now performed five percutaneous coronary intervention procedures (PCIs) through a precision vascular robot. Enabling Patel to conduct the procedure a full 20 miles from his surgical patients, vascular robotics company Corindus has refined its now FDA-cleared CorPath GRX robot. Using a hardwired internet connection, the CorPath System allowed for extreme precision in vascular and coronary procedures, yet proved intuitive enough for Patel to manipulate the robot using joysticks and a video monitor. While only just published in The Lancet spin-off EClinicalMedicine, Corindus’ remote heart surgery achievement has now been replicated several times in the U.S.

Why it’s important: Riding the convergence of low-latency networks, mixed reality, high-precision robotics, and advanced sensors, telemedicine is making high-risk, life-saving procedures far more accessible. By allowing some of the world’s best doctors to operate in remote communities from afar, robotics and virtual interfaces will soon decentralize, delocalize and democratize healthcare. As explained by Corindus’ CEO Mark Toland, “The success of this study paves the way for large-scale, long-distance telerobotic platforms across the globe.” As 5G, satellite constellations, and balloons bring high-speed connectivity to today’s most inaccessible regions, distance to care could grow immaterial over the next 15 years.