Live surgery at Whitechapel hospital shared online globally for the first time with thousands

Surgeon Shafi Ahmed shared the procedure live with thousands of students worldwide Picture: Barts He

Surgeon Shafi Ahmed shared the procedure live with thousands of students worldwide Picture: Barts Health NHS Trust - Credit: Archant

A surgeon at The Royal London Hospital has become the first in the UK to broadcast online a live surgical procedure using a pair of Google Glass eyewear.

The procedure to remove cancerous tissue from the liver and bowel of an elderly man was watched live by 13,000 surgical students around the world from 115 countries on a computer or mobile phone. They also had the opportunity to put their questions directly to the surgeon.

The students typed their questions online as they watched the procedure. Their queries then appeared on the bottom left-hand side of the Google Glass worn by the surgeon, who then answered them verbally, transmitted via the online feed.

The questions appeared at the side of the Google Glass and did not restrict the surgeon’s view.

Performing the surgery was Mr Shafi Ahmed, Colorectal Cancer Lead at Barts Health NHS Trust and Associate Dean at Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. He said: “I am delighted that by using Google Glass technology we are transporting our future surgeons directly into the operating theatre. Using this technology will support us to deliver high-quality and safe care now and in to the future.”

Professor Richard Trembath, Vice-Principal for Health, Queen Mary University of London, said: “We are thrilled to be involved in the first live-streamed surgical procedure taking place in the UK. This is a pioneering piece of work, enabling us to expand our reach around the world.”

The Google Glass gives viewers a surgeon’s-eye view of the procedure from beginning to end, as well as providing an insight into how an operating theatre works. Those viewing were also able to observe medical students from Queen Mary University of London as they assisted in the procedure.

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In a world-first, the procedure was broadcast to students free of charge from across Europe, Australasia and South America. Previously, countries have only shared operations to students within their country.