World's first transcontinental anesthesia

September 10, 2010
This anesthesia cockpit in Montreal is controlling anesthesia in Pisa. Credit: Dept. of Anesthesia, McGill University

Videoconferences may be known for putting people to sleep, but never like this. Dr. Thomas Hemmerling and his team of McGill's Department of Anesthesia achieved a world first on August 30, 2010, when they treated patients undergoing thyroid gland surgery in Italy remotely from Montreal. The approach is part of new technological advancements, known as 'Teleanesthesia', and it involves a team of engineers, researchers and anesthesiologists who will ultimately apply the drugs intravenously which are then controlled remotely through an automated system.

This achievement is a product of an on-going scientific collaboration between Dr. Hemmerling's team and the Italian team of Dr. Zaouter of the Department of Anesthesia of Pisa University (Chairman Prof. Giunta).

"The practice has obvious applications in countries with a significant number of people living in remote areas, like Canada, where specialists may not be available on site," Hemmerling said. "It could also be used for teaching purposes, allowing the resident to perform tasks without the physical presence of a tutor, thus increasing his or her confidence level."

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, ) and live images of the surgery are monitored by each camera, with the fourth used for special purposes. A station ('anesthesia cockpit') is required, as is a workstation that handles the audio-video link between the two centres. "Obviously, local can override the process at any time," Hemmerling explained. Prior to the operation, an assessment of the patient's airway and medical history is also performed via video-conferencing.

The researchers are also looking at the possibility of preoperative assessment of patients at home. It used to be that invasive blood tests or other tests were required in preparation for many surgeries, but that's no longer the case. Many patients take very long journeys and often wait hours to see an anesthesiologist who will ask them specific questions, but video-conferencing could eliminate these logistical problems and probably reduce the preoperative stress of the patients coming into the hospital before surgery. "The next steps will be to confirm the results of this pilot experience with further studies," Hemmerling said.

Explore further: World first: researchers develop completely automated anesthesia system

More information: For more information: www.newanesthesia.com

Related Stories

Remote-control health

May 23, 2008

With search engine companies establishing online personal health records for their users and surgeons on the brink of making robotic surgery routine, it makes sense to have a remote medical care system that can support nursing ...

Operating room radiography to transform surgery

April 2, 2010

In a move that could change the way many patients undergo surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital has installed five state-of-the-art Siemens Artis zeego® medical imaging systems that provide faster, more accurate 3-D images ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.