Video: French president views surgery at Ipswich Hospital from Strasbourg thanks to new high-tech video link
PUBLISHED: 14:53 30 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:52 03 February 2014
Surgeons at Ipswich Hospital had their handiwork overseen by an international dignitary today – even though he was hundreds of miles away in France.
It was all part of a demonstration of a new piece of technology which should improve the training and mentoring of surgeons.
Put simply, a robot with a flat-screen monitor and a camera can be placed in an operating theatre to beam pictures all over the world.
This allows the staff at Ipswich Hospital to run joint mentoring sessions with the European Institute of Telesurgery in Strasbourg (EITS) who they have a partnership with.
Today the two institutions organised a demonstration of the equipment with surgery being conducted in Suffolk being beamed across the channel to their French counterparts who were able to view and comment on the operation for the benefit of their own trainees.
And while the demonstration was going on French president François Hollande, on a visit to visiting EITS, was able to observe the procedure.
Martin Sinclair, a consultant surgeon at Ipswich Hospital, said: “I think they way it’s going to improve surgery is it’s going to give a greater presence and opportunity to learn from different people and be able to teach more people in the current environment.
“Essentially it’s a computer with a TV camera on it, a pretty good quality one. It takes images of the operating theatre, images from the keyhole surgery we’re doing and other equipment in the theatre and beams those to another location and then a surgeon at the other end, in this case Strasbourg, can be involved in mentoring what is going on in theatre.
“This exercise was to test the link with Strasbourg, also to get a little bit of mentoring and also the French president François Hollande was visiting so he came and said hello. It was all quite exciting really.
“Increasingly we’re going to try and use this for all surgery, certainly ones that I perform, so it can work as an excellent tool.”
Each camera set-up, called the VISIT OR1 robot, is worth about £70,000 but Ipswich Hospital is getting them for free thanks to a partnership agreement with manufacturer Storz.
Mr Mihai Tudose, a surgeon at Ipswich Hospital, said: “It’s a big step forwards. For teaching purposes or expanding your area of expertise it’s a very good thing.
“The mentor can sit somewhere and supervise two or three people doing various operations.
“Potentially you can perform an operation and be mentored from places like Japan or South America, you name it, and that can help of course.”