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Chinese team offers remote treatment

World first as intercontinental surgery broadcast live from meeting in Italy

By Yan Dongjie | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-12 09:26
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A Chinese medical team at a conference in Italy used a robot to perform remote prostate cancer resection surgery on a patient in Beijing on Friday in the world's first live broadcast intercontinental operation.

More than 8,000 kilometers from the patient, a team led by Zhang Xu, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and director of the Department of Urology at the Third Medical Center of the Chinese PLA General Hospital, conducted the surgery at the Challenges in Laparoscopy & Robotics conference in Rome.

Zhang said the surgery utilized a domestically developed robot system with completely independent intellectual property rights in China, combined with China's 5G+ internet communication technology, achieving low latency, high precision and high stability.

"If experts, for example, in Beijing, and doctors on-site in other locations perform a surgery together with the system, it enables mutual consultation and real-time switching, just like bringing skilled doctors to the surgical site," Zhang said. "China is a vast country with uneven regional development. How to project the best medical resources and surgical techniques from major cities to remote areas is also a manifestation of respecting life.

"In the world, there are many underdeveloped regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative that also need this technology. We connect the world into a village, a hospital or an operating room."

The Challenges in Laparoscopy& Robotics conference is dedicated to exploring advanced surgical techniques to treat patients with challenging conditions.

Zhang's team has been invited to the conference for 15 years in a row to perform difficult surgical demonstrations.

"For me, it's really a historical experience, historical moment," said Vito Ansadoro, president of the conference. "We were emotional looking at what was happening."

He said radical prostatectomy is a highly difficult urological surgery, with complex surgical techniques and high risks, and the remote surgery by the Chinese team addressed challenging issues such as network latency and data compression.

As pioneers in remote surgery, Zhang and his team have assisted domestic and foreign experts in completing more than 60 cases of remote surgical exploration in fields such as urology, gynecology and general surgery, and have completed multiple clinical trials with a 100 percent success rate.

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