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Wearable technology in an international telementoring setting during surgery: a feasibility study

Abstract

Background Telemedicine holds promise for improving access to care. Telementoring—defined as mentoring by means of telecommunication and computer networks—can be used for remote education of healthcare professionals. Furthermore, it is rapidly establishing itself as a valuable asset in medicine and education. This paper aims to establish a financially and practically feasible, stable telementoring network using wearables for sterile and hands-free remote control, to be used during surgical procedures.

Methods Two stand-alone computer systems, located at an academic hospital in the Netherlands and at a surgical research facility in Spain, were connected using TeamViewer software allowing for remote, hands-free controlling of radiological images using Myo gesture control armband. The operating surgeon consulted the remote surgeon through an audio, video and desktop sharing system during a live surgical procedure on a single porcine model. The system was analysed for feasibility and connection quality.

Results The sensors used were commercially available and relatively cheap, with the integrating computer system being responsible for the majority of costs. A successful connection was established without any downtime and with only a minor time lag, not interfering with the telementoring procedures. The operating surgeon effectively consulted with and was mentored by the remote surgeon, through video, audio and the desktop sharing system, using the wearable sensors.

Conclusions This proof of principle shows the feasibility of using an internet-based remote desktop sharing system in combination with wearable sensors and TedCube technology for telementoring purposes during surgical procedures.

  • telemedicine
  • remote consultation
  • videoconferencing
  • user-computer interface
  • computer-assisted surgery
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