One of the most controversial 5G use cases is the remote surgery. In this post I want to quickly look at the history and what is possible. Before I go to that, here is a short summary video that I am embedding upfront.
As far as I can recall, Ericsson was the first vendor that started talking about remote surgery. This is a tweet from back in 2017.
With #5G and the tactile internet, doctors can perform remote
surgery on a patient anywhere in the world. https://t.co/U81bayv3ws pic.twitter.com/pSXFg1NCJX
— Ericsson (@ericsson) August 28, 2017
Huawei didn’t want to be far behind so they did one at MWC Shanghai in 2018. Their tweet with video is embedded below.
Meet the Remote Surgery Robot. At #MWCS18, Huawei stiches together a vivid picture of how #5G’s reliable connection can save lives: https://t.co/cobykl1KKP #WirelessXLabs pic.twitter.com/Pbme8BmcoT
— Huawei (@Huawei) June 28, 2018
In January 2019, South China Morning Post (SCMP) showed a video of a remote surgery on an animal. While the video and the article didn’t provide many details, I am assuming this was done by Huawei as detailed here. The video of the surgery below.
This was followed by Mobile World Congress 2019 demo where a doctor used 5G to direct surgery live from a stage at MWC to Hospital Clinic Barcelona over 3 miles away. The team of doctors was removing a cancerous tumor from a patient’s colon. This video from that is embedded below.
Vodafone New Zealand had a silly remote surgery of a dog video but looks like they have removed it. Nothing can beat this Telecom Italia ad embedded below.
There are some realistic use cases. One of them being that with 5G the number of cables / wires in a hospital can be reduced saving on the disinfection.
NTT Docomo showcased 5G Mobile SCOT (Smart Cyber Operating Theater) which is an Innovative solution to enable advanced medical treatment in diverse environments. You can read more details here.
There are lots of other things going on. Here is a short list:
- April 2020: Because of Coronavirus COVID-19, NT Times has an article on Telemedicine Arrives in the U.K.: ‘10 Years of Change in One Week’ – even though this does not involve 5G, it just shows that we are moving in that direction.
- February 2020: 5G-aided remote CT scans used to diagnose COVID-19 patients in China (link)
- February 2020: Verizon teamed with Emory Healthcare to test new 5G use cases for the medical industry at the latter’s Innovation Hub in Atlanta, in a bid to discover how the technology can be used to improve patient care. The collaboration will explore applications including connected ambulances; remote physical therapy; medical imaging; and use of AR and VR for training. (link)
- February 2020: Vodafone 5G Healthcare – Conference & Experience Day (link)
- November 2019: TIM enables first live remote-surgery consultation using 5G immersive reality (link)
- October 2019: Along with a hospital in Malaga, Telefónica has presented what it claims is the first expert assistance system for medical interventions that runs on 5G. (link and video)
- September 2019: Mobile Future Forward 2019 – World’s First Remote VR Surgery Demo conducted on Sept 4th, 2019 in Seattle by Chetan Sharma, James Youngquist, Evie Powell, Nissim Hadar, David Colmenares, and Gabe Jones. (link)
Finally, a nice video on Benefits of 5G for Healthcare Technology by T-Mobile
- The 3G4G Blog: NTT Docomo’s Vision on 5G Evolution and 6G
- The 3G4G Blog: 5G eXtended Reality (5G-XR) in 5G System (5GS)
- The 3G4G Blog: Real-life 5G Use Cases for Verticals from China
- The 3G4G Blog: 5G Private and Non-Public Network (NPN)
- The 3G4G Blog: 5G and Industry 4.0
- The 3G4G Blog: Spectrum for 5G NR beyond 52.6 GHz