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Surgery stuck? Drone to the rescue: Bone tissue ferried for diagnosis and opinion

ICMR said the flight was part of its efforts to expand the use of drones to transport time-sensitive biological tissue samples for diagnosis after earlier flights carried essential medicines and blood samples

G.S. Mudur New Delhi Published 11.04.24, 04:26 AM
The ICMR drone which carried the tissue sample from the TMA Pai Rotary Hospital in Karkal to the Kasturba Medical College Hospital in Manipal.

The ICMR drone which carried the tissue sample from the TMA Pai Rotary Hospital in Karkal to the Kasturba Medical College Hospital in Manipal. Sourced by the Telegraph

A drone ferried tissue extracted from a hip bone during surgery in a rural hospital to a bigger facility in Karnataka for rapid diagnosis to guide a surgical decision, India’s health research agency said on Wednesday.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said the flight was part of its efforts to expand the use of drones to transport time-sensitive biological tissue samples for diagnosis after earlier flights carried essential medicines and blood samples.

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Wednesday’s flight carried a palpable mass from a hip bone encountered during an appendectomy operation at the TMA Pai Rotary Hospital in Karkal a town in southern Karnataka to the Kasturba Medical College (KMC) Hospital, Manipal, the 37km journey done in 20 minutes.

At the KMC, pathologists analysed the specimen and electronically conveyed the results to the Karkal hospital, guiding the surgeon who proceeded with the surgery based on the received report, the ICMR said. The flight has demonstrated the use of drones to carry onco-pathological specimens from hospitals with limited resources to tertiary care hospitals with advanced diagnostic facilities for quick diagnosis and surgical decisions, the agency said.

Surgeons who encounter suspicious tissues during surgery often send the intraoperative tissues to a pathology lab — and, if possible, use the results for surgical decisions. Drones could help eliminate the need for repeat surgeries and reduce the risk of surgery-associated infections, the ICMR has said.

The ICMR had over two years ago deployed drones to deliver Covid-19 vaccines in remote or hard-to-reach terrain in Manipur, Nagaland and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and had last year used drones to carry medicines and blood samples in Ladakh.

Multiple countries, including Ghana, Malawi and Rwanda among others, have used drones for healthcare assignments.

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