Singapore and Japan Collaborate on Groundbreaking Robotic Telesurgery Trial

by Sinead Huang
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Singapore’s National University Hospital (NUH) and the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS Medicine) have joined hands with Japan’s Fujita Health University (FHU) for their first-ever robotic telesurgery trial. From the 9th to the 11th of October 2023, clinician-scientists conducted a gastrectomy, a stomach surgery for cancer, remotely between Singapore and Japan. This innovative approach relies on Japan’s first surgical robot, allowing surgeons in Singapore to control a robotic operation unit in Japan through a dedicated international fiber-optic network.

Related article: Fujitsu and iSurgery Collaborate to Enhance Bone Health Through Innovative Radiography Assessment

Collaboration for a New Medical Frontier

The collaboration between NUS Medicine, NUH, and FHU is a result of a Memorandum of Understanding signed in August 2023, focusing on academic partnership and the exploration of advanced medical practices. Among the surgeons participating in this endeavor were Professor Jimmy So and Assistant Professor Kim Guowei from Singapore, and Professors Ichiro Uyama and Koichi Suda from Japan, over 5,000 kilometers apart. 

The goal of this ambitious trial is to assess the possibilities, challenges, and solutions associated with remote telesurgery utilizing FHU’s expertise in robotic surgery. Through a series of complex gastrectomy procedures, the teams aim to demonstrate the feasibility of conducting technically demanding surgeries from a distance using high-speed fiber-optic communication. This project delves into the potential advantages of remote surgery, including enhanced global access to specialized care, reduced patient travel, and enhanced surgical expertise.

Advancing Surgical Expertise and Medical Education

One significant aspect of this collaboration is the advancement of surgical techniques and skills across borders. Telesurgery not only offers safer options during public health crises but also promotes tele-mentoring and distance learning in medical education. Assistant Professor Kim Guowei highlights the potential for knowledge exchange, advanced surgical techniques, and best practices worldwide, leading to improved surgical outcomes. This part underscores the educational and global implications of the trial.

The collaborative telesurgery between Singapore and Japan signifies a remarkable milestone in the field of medical innovation, potentially revolutionizing surgical procedures and education while expanding the reach of specialized care.

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