TIM ‘teleports’ doc to major 5G op – in front of 30,000 consultants
A doctor in Rome has performed “major surgery” on a patient in an operating theatre in the city of Terni, 100 kilometres away, using virtual reality glasses and a 5G connection. The operation was live-streamed to 30,000 specialists and surgeons across the world.
Actually, we should check the detail, as presented by Italian operator TIM. The doctor in question, one Giorgio Palazzini, is actually a professor at Sapienza University in Rome, albeit a professor of surgery and a specialist in surgical technologies. The operation, a laparoscopic procedure on the abdomen and pelvis, carried out at Santa Maria Hospital, in Terni, was actually carried out by others, with Palazzini able only to interact and advise, albeit in ‘real-time’.
Still, TIM called the feat, part of a major conference on digestive system surgery, a “European first” for immersive 5G-enabled remote-surgery, using three simulcasting cameras in the operating theatre, including a super high-definition 360° device, as well as the VR visor worn by Palazzini in Rome.
TIM said in a statement: “Professor Palazzini participated first-hand in the operation, simultaneously observing the procedure and the patient’s biometrics. The technology also allowed him to zoom in and select important details, while in the same view showing the live image of the patient’s internal organs, thanks to a web-connected laparoscopic camera.
“The super-high quality of 4K video communication and the immediacy of the immersive reality – made possible by 5G’s low latency – meant that professor Palazzini was able to access and comment [on] diagnostic information in real time and oversee the operation as if he were part of the team in Terni.”
TIM hailed it as “important step in the world of surgery”. It said the experiment had a bearing on the combination of 5G, AI and VR in a number of healthcare settings, including ambulances and other healthcare services. “Rapid involvement of highly specialised knowledge will mean complex operations can be carried out remotely, saving precious time for the patient’s life,” it commented.
Elisabetta Romano, chief innovation officer at TIM, said: “New opportunities are arising for the sector to benefit from innovative solutions that serve both patients and the entire scientific community. The specific characteristics of 5G, as well as robotics, artificial intelligence and the internet of things, are opening up exciting but challenging scenarios.”
Palazzini said: “This is only the start of a new era of e-learning in all branches of medicine. But its short-term future will be remote surgery, made possible by robots and 5G with virtually no latency. That means being able to operate on patients in any hospital that has 5G connectivity and robots, and real-time sharing of data-intensive diagnostic exams such as CT and MRI.”
The Rome/Terni showcase coordinated by professor Chang-Ming Huang, based at the Fujian Medical University, Fuzhon, founded in 1860. It was watched live via multi-streaming by over 30,000 medical practitioners around the world, said TIM.
The 30th International Conference of Digestive System Surgery was at the Auditorium Massimo, in Rome.