Once 5G technology and networks are widespread, the IoT is truly expected to become mainstream as we usher in a new era of the connected world.
The technology should benefit virtually every industry, including telecommunications, travel, manufacturing and pro AV.
And, according to new research, 5G could open new doors in healthcare to allow doctors to perform surgery on patients from miles away.
Newsweek, reporting on research published in the medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, details how Italian healthcare professionals were able to perform telesurgery on a cadaver via a robotic system from over 9 miles away.
A 5G-connected teleoperated surgical robotic system was used to perform a procedure on the vocal cords of an adult human cadaver.
Low latency and high bandwidth – two leading properties of 5G – helped make the procedure possible, researchers said.
An otorhinolaryngologist located at Vodafone Village, southwest of Milan, was tasked with handling the robotic system. Meanwhile, a cadaver was located at an anatomy lab of San Raffaele hospital, roughly 9 miles northeast of the city.
“This 5G telesurgery experiment showed that the surgeon had effective control of the surgical robot, forceps, and laser and could confidently perform high-precision laser cordectomies on the cadaver’s vocal cords,” the paper explained.
“This was largely because of the high-quality telepresence experience delivered by the robots and interfaces, which allowed the surgeon to manipulate the cadaver’s vocal cords as if he were in the operating room directly operating on a patient.”
The team said the properties of 5G, low latency and high bandwidth, helped to facilitate the research, the same capabilities telecommunication companies say will revolutionize wireless connections on smartphones and internet-of-things (IoT) devices.
Leonardo De Mattos, a lead author of the research, told Newsweek remote telesurgery had been a “dream for many years,” with the study proving to be “exciting verification” it is possible to manage over 5G, which is slowly rolling out across the world.
“The main result of this research is the first proof that telesurgery is feasible using 5G, the new generation of mobile telecommunication networks. This way of performing surgery has been a dream for more than 20 years,” De Mattos said.
According to Newsweek, the research builds on a 2001 operation in which surgeons based in New York using a surgical robot performed a 45-minute, minimally invasive procedure on a patient in France.
The research, published this week, comes amid a rise in telehealth services that connect patients to healthcare providers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Telehealth has proven to be helpful, but some healthcare professional cast doubt on the technology’s staying power unless it is dramatically improved so it mimics an in-person doctor visit.
Telesurgery and the ability to perform actual procedures via telehealth technology seems to be a natural progression.
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