While robotics entered the world of medicine almost two decades ago, using robots to perform complicated surgical operations from a distance has been a pipe dream – that is up until now.

Thanks to a new technological breakthrough, a surgeon in India has successfully performed the first remote heart surgery on five patients who were lying on an operating table 20 miles away.

The five patients had coronary artery disease, a condition wherein blood vessels are damaged, and the heart can’t receive enough blood supply. The doctor placed a small structure in each patient’s blood vessel to open it up, which allowed the blood to flow through.

While surgeons have used robots in operations since 2001, the success of these surgeries could be a step forward for the treatment of heart disease, especially in less developed countries or rural areas who currently don’t have access to the necessary medical services.