Your Life in “It’s” Hands

Videoconferences may be known for putting people to sleep, but never quite like this.

In a world first, Canadian scientists, last week treated patients undergoing thyroid surgery in Italy –  remotely from Montreal.  The approach is part of new technological advancements, known as Teleanesthesia.

The operations involved a team of engineers, researchers and anesthesiologists who controlled the administration of anesthetic agents from thousands of miles away using an automated system.

Four strategically placed video cameras monitored every aspect of patient care in Pisa, Italy, in real time.

Ventilation parameters, such as the patient’s breathing rate, vital signs (ECG, heart rate, oxygen saturation) and live images of the surgery were monitored by each camera, with the fourth used for special purposes.

A remote computer station known as the ‘anesthesia cockpit’ handled the audio-video link between the two centers. Prior to the operation, an assessment of the patient’s airway and medical history was performed via video-conferencing.

For those people concerned that computers can and do go wrong, chief investigator Dr. Thomas  Hemmerling offers the following reassurance, “Obviously, local anesthesiologists can override the process at any time.”

SRxA’s Word on Health will be monitoring all developments!