Sovato successfully completes series of remote robotic surgical tests

A surgeon speaks with the remote surgical care team 500 miles away through the Sovato Platform. | Source: Sovato

Sovato Health Inc. recently announced that it completed a series of remote robotic-assisted surgical procedures using its Sovato remote surgery platform.

Seven surgeons across four specialties performed nephrectomy, hysterectomy, colectomy, and cholecystectomy procedures on pigs as part of the preclinical tests, which took place across about 500 miles between Chicago and Lincoln, Neb.

“I could not tell the difference between doing surgery in my operating room or in an operating room that was 500 miles away,” stated Dr. Francesco Bianco, associate professor of surgery in the Division of General, Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery in the University of Illinois, Chicago’s Department of Surgery.

“The experience was seamless. There was no detectable delay,” he said. “There was absolute comfort in communicating with the team on the remote side. Everything looked like a normal day in my operating room.”

Sovato Platform supports remote procedures

Cynthia Perazzo, MBA, co-founded Sovato with industry pioneer Yulun Wang, Ph.D., the founder of Computer Motion (which merged with Intuitive Surgical) and InTouch Health (later acquired by Teladoc Health). The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company said its vision is “to create unprecedented access to high-quality surgical care by enabling and orchestrating safe, scalable, and profitable remote robotic-assisted surgery and procedure programs.”

The Sovato Platform is designed to enable remote robotic-assisted surgeries and procedures. The company said its remote connectivity and software-as-a-service (SaaS) will allow the remote surgery ecosystem to work together.

Healthcare providers and robotic-assisted surgical systems can use the curated fiber-optic network, clinical workflows, data, and support infrastructure for safe remote procedures, asserted Sovato.

“Sovato’s position is that the user experience is fundamental to drive adoption,” said co-founder and CEO Perazzo. “Capturing the surgeon’s confidence in the technology and workflows is everything. These preclinical tests highlight that with the right tools and supporting infrastructure, remote surgery can mimic, and even improve, the experience for the surgeon and care teams.

John Lawrence, lead architect, demonstrates the Sovato Platform at a recent trade show. Source: Sovato

Virtual Incision teams up on tests

Remote surgery will help address the needs of more than half the world’s population that does not currently have access to high-quality surgical care, including 83 million Americans who must travel for routine procedures, noted Sovato. Robotics and the right communications infrastructure could enable surgeons to conduct minimally invasive surgeries remotely, making such procedures feasible for more hospitals, it said.

The test procedures used the Sovanto software running on a modified version of Virtual Incision’s MIRA Surgical System. Virtual Incision got a SpaceMIRA version of its robot miniaturized with Maxon and other partners onto the International Space Station earlier this year.

“We are grateful to Virtual Incision’s partnership in making these preclinical tests a success,” Perazzo said. “We share a vision of democratizing access to high-quality surgical care at a much larger scale, and these tests underscore we are on the right path to making this vision a reality.”

According to Sovato, its platform had low latency and curated fiber-optic connectivity from the surgeon’s console to control MIRA’s arms. It worked with an integrated articulating camera at the remote location to provide full situational awareness. The surgeons maintained immersive verbal and visual communication with the remote care team using the Sovato Platform.

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Surgeons report favorable experiences

As part of the preclinical tests, the surgeons completed a user-experience assessment and expressed a high degree of confidence while performing the remote procedures. They also reported that they were able to communicate effectively with the bedside assistant and that they had situational awareness of the remote operating room similar to that of in-person surgery.

“Remote surgery offers the ability for surgeons and healthcare teams to care for patients who may not have access to minimally invasive surgery in many parts of the world,” said Dr. Marty Martino, medical director of gynecologic oncology and robotic surgery at Ascension St. Vincent’s. “To think about a surgeon located in one city and performing a remote surgery more than 500 miles away — all while feeling like you’re right there in person with the patient and care team — is history in the making.”

Sovato’s investors include Polaris Partners, Laerdal Million Lives Fund, Beringea, and other private investors. Its platform has yet not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not currently available for sale in the U.S.

Editor’s note: This article was syndicated from The Robot Report sibling site MassDevice

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