What was done

Surgeons in Christchurch and Brisbane carried off a world-first when they worked together to perform keyhole surgery in the mobile surgical ‘bus’ parked adjacent to Christchurch Hospital.

This operation was made possible thanks to a sophisticated network developed to carry high quality two-way images and voice.

From 2,500 kilometres away, Brisbane renal expert Dr David Nicol was able to assist Christchurch surgeon Dr Pete Davidson to remove a kidney in "real time" with delicate keyhole surgery.

Dr Nicol appeared life-size on a plasma screen in the 'bus' from his Princess Alexandra Hospital office. From where he sat he was able to control cameras in the bus allowing him to see the operation in extreme-close-up. He was equipped with a small host surgeon control so that with his joystick he could see exactly what he wanted to see by controlling camera zooms, tilts and pans.

For telepresence to be successful, communications technology must provide crystal clear pictures with no delays. Dr Nicol could only assist and advise when he was able to view the patient and the procedure as if he was in the theatre himself. This was done via a super link which provided 10 times more capacity.