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Telefónica demonstrates first 5G-enabled remote surgery assistance system


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.

As part of the IV Advanced Digestive Endoscopy Conference medical training sessions were broadcast live in 4K quality with “almost no latency,” Telefónica says.

Through augmented reality, essential information was displayed and updated in real-time throughout the operation.

Katsumi Yamamoto, director of the Endoscopy Centre at Osaka Hospital, was able to collaborate graphically on the screen about how the surgery should proceed with Dr Pedro Rosón Rodríguez, Head of the Digestive System Service of the Quirónsalud Málaga Hospital, who conducted the surgery from Málaga.

Low latency

Mercedes Fernández, Innovation Manager at Telefónica, said, "The operations organised at this conference are just an example of the numerous practical applications that 5G can have in healthcare.

"Thanks to two key features of this technology – the low latency that allows transmission without delays and the ability to handle large video streams at high speed – it was possible to perform this intervention with the added value of doing so live and in real-time with the interaction of doctors and attendees to provide solutions and ask questions about the clinical case that was undertaken.”

Dr Pedro Rosón said, "The experience of previous years in organising innovative training courses in digestive endoscopy allows us this year to provide a global training course thanks to 5G technology, something that might seem science fiction but that we are making reality today.

“The use of 5G and augmented reality is, without doubt, what stands out in comparison with our previous editions and with any other standard medical workshops.

"We are therefore proud to keep and to continue offering an innovative training space with the live conducting of cases by specialists from Spain and abroad, with an emphasis on theory and reviewing the latest advances in interventional endoscopy.”

Next steps

There are now plans for Dr Rosón to use the system to advise on an operation being carried out at Poniente Hospital in El Ejido, Almería.

At Mobile World Congress in February this year, the first tele-mentored surgery performed was performed over a 5G connection between the Fira Gran Via and Hospital Clinic de Barcelona. A medical expert advised an in-theatre surgeon on a live operation in close to real-time.