Doctor Makes History with World’s First Robotic Heart Surgery

Client: Surgeon Tejas Patel

Coverage: Daily Express, BBC Asian Network, Health Tech Newspaper, Asian Voice

The world’s first-in-human heart surgery has been performed at long distance, paving the way for life-saving telerobotic operations across the globe.

Telerobotics is a mix of telemedicine and robotics and can bring drastic changes in the way advance healthcare is administered to patients. The scientific breakthrough saw coronary intervention performed on a female patient at a distance of 20 miles; an important breakthrough in the history of medical science.

The heart surgery was undertaken in India by Dr. Tejas Patel, Chairman and Chief Interventional Cardiologist of the Apex Heart Institute at Ahmedabad. Patel, a senior cardiologist, had already operated on the woman a few days previously to remove a blockage after she suffered from a heart attack. However, a few days later, another blockage was identified.

Dr Patel was able to take a seat behind a console at a distance of 20 miles away to operate on the middle-aged woman. The procedure, which lasted just 15 minutes was to place a stent in the second artery that was clogged, using an internet-enabled robotic arm which Dr Patel guided to perform the surgery as a team of doctors and paramedics attended the patient to take care of any eventualities.

The first-of-its-kind surgery happened 32 years after the world’s first stent surgery was carried out in 1986. This leap in medical history means the very best doctors can reach patients at any part of the world as long as there is an internet connection, cath lab and robotic arm.

55 year old Dr Patel has performed over 100,000 heart surgeries to date, and it is with this experience that he took on the live operation for the first time. He said: “This remote robotic PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention) represents a landmark event for interventional medicine. Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are the number one cause of death worldwide resulting in nearly 18 million deaths per year. The use of telerobotics has the potential to impact a significant number of lives by providing access to emergency care by the best surgeons in the world – that may not otherwise have been possible. This is particularly important when treating heart attacks and stroke, where treatment must be received in as little as 90 minutes or within 24 hours, respectively, to avoid death or permanent disability.”