Heart surgery by teleportation…

Beyond its indisputable didactic interest, the use of the metaverse and above all of augmented reality in medicine could make it possible to “transport” operating teams thousands of kilometers away. Insight into a futuristic doctor’s office with Patrick Nataf and Boris Hansel.


Boris Hansel- Hello everybody. Are you familiar with teleportation and the metaverse (or metaverse)? Sounds like science fiction, but we’ll see that there are applications, for today and tomorrow. We talk about it with Patrick Nataf, who is a professor of cardiac surgery. Together we coordinate the Connected Health Responsibility Center at the APHP, the CRSC, which, with the University of Paris Cité, has an educational mission. We have also proposed for 2023 a University Diploma called “healthy metaverse”. This is the novelty of e-health teaching, you can also register, it starts in March.

But back to the topic of the day, including the metaverse and teleportation. For many people, the metaverse is an imagination, even marketing… And what can I say?

Patrick Nataf – The metaverse is the transposition into a virtual world. It’s probably marketing and it was done very well by Mark Zuckerberg. But here we will talk about something else: we are, in our research unit, working on immersive technologies and we will still talk about teleportation, that is the transposition into a real universe, and not into a virtual universe.

Operating capsule (source: Pr Patrick Nataf)

Boris Hansel- Does that mean we will “teleport”? Do you surgeons teleport? Yeah, teleporting a particle sounds complicated, so teleporting a human… Explain to us.

Patrick Nataf – Indeed, we go even further because we will talk about the teleportation of an entire surgical team in an operating room which will be 10,000 km away from us.

We will teleport an entire surgical team to an operating room which will be 10,000km away from us.

Boris Hansel- How do you teleport a surgical team so far without flying?

Patrick Nataf – It’s simple, we have a capsule that we will enter and we will be immersed in an operating room that will be filmed in 360°. That is to say, we will see the staff who work in this operating room and the patient who will be at the center of this staff, we will see the surgical techniques evolve during the intervention and we will interact with this whole universe, everyone who is doing an intervention.

Boris Hansel- So will we be able to follow live what happens at 10,000 km, and all this in real life? It’s not just pictures. What do you need it for, in practice, in heart surgery and surgery in general?

Patrick Nataf – The operating room has relatively limited access, not everyone can enter. There, we will allow as many people as possible to attend an intervention. Instead, we’ll see how the surgical team behaves in this operating room. You know, there’s so many little codes to know, you shouldn’t touch something that’s sterile, we’ll be careful of everything. Above all, many are not used to witnessing an operation or seeing how an operation is conducted, there we will be able to experience it live with the actors of this intervention.

Boris Hansel- So it serves to teach, to learn what is happening and to try to adopt the right gestures, the right techniques, the right precautions…

Patrick Nataf – Here you are. Good practice in general when you come back, when you are a nursing staff and you want to know what the operating room is.

But it goes further: when you are 10,000 km away and you have a particular technique to learn, instead of taking a plane to move around, watching the surgeon operate, you will be directly in front of the operation and we will interact with the operator, with the anesthesiologists, with the nurses who manage the operating room, and at the same time watch what happens on the monitors when the patient is operated on.

Boris Hansel- We can learn what is happening, the technique etc. Now we will go even further: can we imagine one day that you, Pr Nataf, expert, can operate at 10,000 km while in this transporter pod?

Patrick Nataf – We will not operate directly. We will use tools, in particular mixed reality, augmented reality helmets, to be able to indicate in real time, positioning our hands and our tools exactly in the operating field of the person who is performing this operation that he knows less well. Instead of operating live, we will guide the surgeon step by step for each gesture, it will be direct, it will be reality. It is a reality that we call “augmented” or “mixed reality”, that is to say that we will intervene in reality with the digitization of our hands, our tools.

We will intervene in reality with the digitization of our hands, of our tools.

Boris Hansel- Clearly the operator will see your hands in the helmet and will superimpose his hands on yours to perform the right gestures on the patient’s heart.

Augmented reality operation (source: Pr Patrick Nataf)

Patrick Nataf – Exactly. He will know exactly where to go, what to do as a movement, as a technique, he will be able to change operating strategy as he is told what to do.

Boris Hansel- Thank you very much, Patrick Nataf. You will get a lot more information, because, of course, we will communicate on this topic.

If you want to learn about the metaverse, teleportation, e-health in general, don’t hesitate to join our multidisciplinary e-health university courses.

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