Live broadcast of open heart surgery

The first live images of an open-heart surgery procedure were broadcast on the Internet last week, as Dr. Robert R. Lazzara of Seattle wore a head-mounted camera in surgery. The camera directly transmitted the live images while he performed a quadruple bypass surgery, mitral valve repair and closure of a hole in the heart on a 77-year-old patient.

The operation was viewed around the world, by people using only a Web browser and a RealVideo player. Participating physicians and medical support personnel were able to ask questions and interact live with the surgery staff throughout the procedure.

“This interactive technology will enable us to communicate in real-time with other physicians and educate the general public on advances in heart surgery anywhere in the world, at any time,” said Dr. Lazzara. “The implications of today’s first Internet transmission of open heart surgery are truly limitless.”

The doctor is not exaggerating too much. The technology offers great potential for both patients and medical staff around the world, who can now become familiar with surgical procedures as they are performed. The Net’s interactive (and live) component offers a clear advantage er traditional film and video media for medical training, since medical observers can ask questions and make observations while an operation is underway. Soon, we will all be medical experts.