The first immersive 4K remote-surgery consultation has taken place in Italy, enabled by TIM's 5G network. In a European first, Professor Giorgio Palazzini – a leading authority on surgical technologies – put on a virtual-reality visor in Rome that “teleported” him to an operating theatre in Santa Maria Hospital, Terni. The technology enabled Professor Palazzini to interact in real time during a laparoscopic procedure with the live medical team, coordinated by Professor Chang-Ming Huang, a world-leading expert based at the Fujian Medical University, Fuzhon, founded in 1860.
Three simulcasting cameras in the operating theatre – including a special 360° super high-definition device – allowed Professor Palazzini to participate first-hand in the operation, simultaneously observing the procedure and the patient's biometrics. The technology also allowed Professor Palazzini 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 diagnostic information in real time and oversee the operation as if he were part of the team in Terni.
This unprecedented event was watched live via multi-streaming by over 30 thousand surgeons around the world, including more than 2,500 doctors, surgeons and professionals attending the 30th International Conference of Digestive System Surgery at the Auditorium Massimo, Rome.
“Today we have taken an important step forward in the world of surgery, made possible by bringing together the technological and healthcare capabilities of the future,” said Elisabetta Romano, TIM's Chief Innovation & Partnership Officer. “New opportunities are arising for the sector to benefit from innovative solutions that serve both patients and the entire scientific community. TIM's innovative 5G Digital Business Platform, combined with the specific characteristics of 5G, as well as robotics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Medical Things, are opening up some exciting but challenging scenarios. It is TIM's goal to play its part in driving the growth of Italy and the company aims to extend the cutting-edge knowledge and techniques available in this area to as many people as possible.”
“This is only the start of a new era of e-learning in all branches of medicine," said Giorgio Palazzini, Professor of Surgery at Sapienza University, Rome, who has a thirty-year interest in telemedicine. "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."
TIM’s ambitions in this area put technological innovation even more to work for people and signal the advent of new and inventive solutions for Health 5.0, including high-definition e-consultations and remote surgery. These technologies make it possible to interact in real time while fully immersed in any environment, such as ambulances or more peripheral healthcare services, where rapid involvement of highly specialised knowledge will mean complex operations can be carried out remotely, saving precious time for the patient’s life.
The initiative shows how 5G can play a major role in improving day-to-day life, enabling significant clinical progress in the healthcare ecosystem by aiding the spread of leading-edge treatment techniques and sharing data that can be used to train surgeons and researchers and feed into scientific studies.
Rome, 28 November 2019