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Surgical Systems

Bell Canada donates $500,000 to robotic surgery at CSTAR

LONDON, Ont. – The London Health Sciences Centre has announced a $500,000 donation by Bell Canada to CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics), which is located at the LHSC.

CSTAR is a national centre for developing and testing the next generation of minimally invasive surgical and interventional technologies and techniques, including robotics. The gift builds on Bell Canada’s previous $300,000 investment and will fund ongoing research in surgical telementoring and telesurgery, using telecommunication to link surgeons who are remote from each other.

“Bell Canada’s support of London Health Sciences Centre testifies to our commitment of making a difference through our new ‘Connected to Communities’ program,” said Renato Discenza, senior vice-president of carrier services, Bell Canada. “This innovative health research initiative is another example of how technology can be used to build stronger, healthier communities.”

Telementoring enables one surgeon at a remote location to mentor another surgeon in an operating room anywhere in the world. Telesurgery is surgery – actual cutting and sewing – performed by a surgeon at a console remote from the patient.

Advanced communications technology allows the surgeon to manipulate endoscopic cameras and surgical robots to perform the surgery while remote from the operating room. Both the remote surgeon and the surgical team with the patient have the exact same view of the surgical site.

“The development of robotic telementoring and telesurgical networks has tremendous potential to optimize patient care in Canada and around the world through the rapid dissemination of knowledge and experience from CSTAR’s surgical group to collaborating surgical teams in other centres,” said Tony Dagnone, president and CEO of London Health Sciences Centre. “Bell Canada’s generous contribution, leadership and vision will promote the health and wellness of Canadians by making advanced care available where it is needed.”

CSTAR’s Telesurgery Project Team is conducting remote surgical robotics research using an Internet based transcontinental Virtual Private Network (VPNe), supplied by Bell Canada, and a satellite based connection with the support of TeleSat. Experiments are testing the feasibility, software and hardware requirements of surgical telementoring, as well as telesurgery, using telecommunication.

The Telesurgery Studio at CSTAR, partly funded by Bell Canada, features both a telementoring and telesurgery workstation. The telementoring workstation uses the SOCRATES platform, a telesurgery-capable robotic arm that holds a camera scope and responds to voice commands. This enables surgeons to teach each other at a distance through live audio and video exchange.

The telesurgery workstation, ZEUS Telesurgery, is connected via Bell’s VPNe and satellite to the robotic arms at the patient’s side. This network, via Halifax, is transcontinental in distance and replaces the usual direct fibre optic connection used during regular robotic surgery.

With its new “Connected to Communities” program, Bell is building upon the company’s existing corporate giving initiatives to focus on programs that encourage economic development and the strengthening of social foundations at the community level, with an emphasis on initiatives that benefit children and youth. For more information, please visit

Bell Canada, Canada’s national leader in communications, provides connectivity to residential and business customers through wired and wireless voice and data communications, local and long distance phone services, high speed and wireless Internet access, IP-broadband services, e-business solutions and satellite television services. Bell Canada is wholly owned by BCE Inc. For more information, please visit

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is one of Canada’s largest acute-care teaching hospitals and is dedicated to excellence in patient care, teaching and research. LHSC has pioneered many national and international medical breakthroughs.

Located in London, Ont., LHSC is also the home of the Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario and CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics). The research arm of LHSC is Lawson Health Research Institute, which is also partnered with London’s other teaching hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Care, London.

LHSC is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario. Physicians and staff at LHSC number close to 8,000, and together they provide care for more than 650,000 patients each year. For more information about CSTAR visit