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The age of automated, computer-controlled surgery came closer than ever this week with the report that surgeons in New York successfully used remote-controlled robots to remove the gall bladder of a patient in France. The procedure, performed on a 68-year-old woman in Strasbourg, was the world’s first long-distance operation on a human.

Led by Jacques Marescaux of the IRCAD European Institute of Telesurgery in France, the transoceanic operation lasted under an hour. The control console was linked to the robots via a high-speed optical-fiber network relaying information through dedicated connections.

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