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Doctor Remotely Directs Live Surgery with 5G

Olivia Long - February 28, 2019 - 08:41 AM
Doctor Remotely Directs Live Surgery with 5G
A surgeon was able to provide support on a surgery despite being miles away, thanks to a 5G connection.

(CCM) — Industry decision-makers have long argued over what exactly 5G connections will allow us to do, but a surgeon has already defined how it will empower his teams. At Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, Dr. Antonio Maria de Lacy, chief of the Hospital Clinic Barcelona’s gastrointestinal surgery unit, used 5G technology to remotely direct a procedure to remove a cancerous tumor from a patient’s colon.

5G can be up to 100 times faster than 4G, and the networks have the potential to revolutionize several industries, health care included. Its speed and reliability means that latency between devices and their servers is cut almost completely, making this sort of high-stakes, long-distance communication possible.

In front of the audience, de Lacy shared instant advice and instructions with his team thanks to the super-fast connection. At one point, he even used a telestrator, or a free-hand sketching device, to highlight an area of the patient’s body, which his team saw live on their end as it operated. "I am drawing with my hand on this screen, and at the same time on their screen," CCN quotes him as saying. "Before 5G, we had to freeze the image to draw, but the surgeon is moving on and that is not ideal."

The hospital said that this was the first time that doctors had leveraged 5G technology to communicate remotely with an operating team. Around 143 million surgeries around the world cannot be performed each year due to the lack of expert surgeons able to be present. 5G technology might be the key to reducing that number. "Regardless of the level of experience of any surgeon, guidance is always welcome," said one of de Lacy’s team members, who helped perform the surgery at the hospital.

Image: © Sashkin - Shutterstock.com
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