The Zhongshan Ophthalmic Centre at Sun Yat-sen University in China has reported the completion of the world’s first remote micron-level surgery on rabbits, which saw a 5G-enabled robot perform surgery from a distance of 363 miles (585 kilometres).
Rabbits underwent the surgery in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, with surgeons and technicians operating the robot from the Hainan Eye Hospital in Haikou, capital of Hainan province.
It is hoped that the milestone will support further development of remote medical practices and surgery in China, as well as the development of national medical standards in this area.
All 12 rabbits are reportedly in stable condition post-surgery, with similar surgeries having previously been performed on mice, pigs and other animals.
According to trial leader Professor Lin Haotian, this could help address the imbalance in standards of medical care around the country by saving time for doctors and patients, cutting costs and making surgical procedures more efficient.
“If everything goes smoothly, 5G remote micron ophthalmic surgery will be available to humans within half a year,” said Professor Lin Haotian, of the Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center at Sun Yat-Sen University.
Huang Kai, a professor at the School of Computer Science and Engineering at Sun Yat-sen University, sees the surgery’s success as proof that 5G robots can be used safely and reliably.
“Ophthalmic surgery requires extreme precision and stability,” said Huang; his team collaborated with Lin’s to build the 5G robots and technologies needed for their application.
Those involved with the project hope to promote telemedicine and further advance the technology so that 5G-enabled remote surgeries can become more widely available.