Dangerous Delays?

Tonight's Healthcast shows us how researchers and doctors are trying to beat a surgical snafu that is hindering a breakthrough.
 Jannett Matthews has had two robotic surgeries, one for weight loss, one to remove her gallbladder.
 Jannett says, "It's really exciting to see how far I've come."
 Her surgeons were just feet away, but what if they were far away?
 Robotic surgery has been done at a distance of five or 600 miles, but telesurgery expert Roger Smith says operating from more than 100 miles from a patient is a big challenge because of internet lag.  It causes delays between when a surgeon moves his hands, to when the robot responds.
 Roger Smith says, "Above half a second you see some of them totally fall apart."
 While doctors can't speed up communication technology, they could adapt to it.
 Smith is conducting studies with surgeons to help them get used to the lag.
 Smith: "If the latency is very high you sometimes feel frustrated. The more exercises you do the better you get."
 Smith says if doctors do adjust their techniques to deal with lag or if telecommunications catch up to surgical robots the best surgeon in the World could be on call for the most critical cases in the World.
 A four million dollar grant from the Department of Defense is funing Smith's telesurgery study.
 He is still recruiting surgeons.

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