Remote Surgery Comes True with 5G Supported by Huawei & China Mobile
COVID-19 and China
Surgeons in operation. Photo: marionbrun on Visual Hunt

On March 16th, 2019, China’s first remote surgery performed on human was successfully conducted by Dr. LING Peizhi (凌至培) from the People's Liberation Army General Hospital (301 Hospital). Huawei and China Mobile (中国移动) cooperated to provide telecommunication support for the surgery.

The neurosurgery was performed by Dr. Ling in Hainan province while the patient accepted the surgery in Beijing, which distance was more than 3,000 km. The patient suffered from Parkinson's disease and failed to go to Hainan to receive the neurosurgery due to physical condition. In the remote neurosurgery, the patient received DBS (deep brain stimulation) to treat his Parkinson symptoms.

Neurosurgery is considered one of the most complicated surgeries in the world while the neural system is not fully understood by either scientists or doctors. The delicacy of neurosurgery imposts strict requirements on telecommunication for remote surgery.

“… With the guarantee of 5G network, the lagging issue in remote surgery under 4G network is solved. The surgery was almost simultaneously performed… The technology can realize the remote surgery by allowing expert surgeons resided in higher-grade institutes to help remote areas’ patients…”, said Dr. Ling.

At the end of February 2019, Huawei published a white book about the capability of 5G. In the white book, Huawei introduced that 5G network can compress the delay to 2~10 ms from 4G network’s 50 ms. As mentioned by Dr. Ling, the latency caused by the network is reduced, which can help the surgeon to perform surgery with fewer worries about the telecommunication part and focus on the surgery with swift response in case of any emergencies or accidents occurred during the operation.

In January, Huawei and China Unicom (中国联通) assisted in the first-ever remote surgery in the test on animal based on the 5G technology. China Unicom and China Mobile are two largest carriers in China, just like AT&T and Verizon in the U.S. 5G technology providers in China are Huawei, ZTE (中兴), Datang Telecom (大唐), etc. Huawei is the most-known for it is one of the 5G standard contributors and the global competition between it and Qualcomm.

The application of 5G is still in the test stage, but the remote neurosurgery proved that how 5G can assist in social resources’ reallocation, at least can help some industries to break the limitation set by geographical reasons or network latency issues. In the healthcare industry, remote surgery, online medical-image-based diagnosis, healthcare data cloud, and others can be expected. In other industries, 5G might bring reformations and surprises like remote surgery in the healthcare field.

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