BARCELONA, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The world's first tele-assisted surgery using 5G technology was carried out here on Wednesday at MWC 2019 (formerly Mobile World Congress).
The use of ultra-high broadband speed offered by 5G technology meant that the patient and the medical team that performed the surgery were in the Optimus operating theater at the Hospital Clinic, with sound and images of the procedure streamed in real time to the MWC, which is held at the Fira Exhibition Center some three kilometers away.
Thanks to the instant transmission of the operation to the exhibition center, Dr Antonio de Lacy, head of the gastrointestinal surgery service at the Hospital Clinic, was able to remotely guide the operating team in the Hospital Clinic from the main auditorium at the Fira Center.
All this was made possible by 5G (the fifth generation of mobile internet connectivity) technology jointly developed by the online education portal Advances in Surgery (AIS) Channel, the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Vodafone, with the support of the Catalan regional government and the Barcelona town hall, among others.
The operation was recorded from all possible angles, and the technology enabled real-time communication between the operating theater and Dr de Lacy.
The initiative is an important breakthrough for the health sector as it opens the door for 'tele-training' with expert surgeons, who would also (in theory) be able to oversee and guide operations in different regions or countries, which would otherwise never take place because of lack of expertise.
"The possibility of remotely connecting operating rooms and surgeons is another step in the AIS Channel mission to democratize medical education worldwide. ... No matter who you are or what economic possibilities you have, the important thing is to provide the best possible care to all patients," explained Dr de Lacy during the presentation.
Dr Josep Maria Campistol, CEO of Hospital Clinic, said the operation marked "a before and after in the world of medicine."
"We are convinced that 5G, a faster and safer technology, will help us remotely control different situations. It will facilitate the day to day work of health professionals and patients and will allow us to develop new projects that will be of great interest to society," he said.
John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA, which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, was confident that "in the future, 5G technology will allow us to synchronize all the necessary devices to enable the simultaneous connection of different specialists around the world and improve the conditions of any type of surgical operation."