5G ultra-remote robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery in China

Surg Endosc. 2020 Nov;34(11):5172-5180. doi: 10.1007/s00464-020-07823-x. Epub 2020 Jul 22.


Background: 5G communication technology has been applied to several fields in telemedicine, but its effectiveness, safety, and stability in remote laparoscopic telesurgery have not been established. Here, we conducted four ultra-remote laparoscopic surgeries on a swine model under the 5G network. The aim of the study was to investigate the effectiveness, safety, and stability of the 5G network in remote laparoscopic telesurgery.

Methods: Four ultra-remote laparoscopic surgeries (network communication distance of nearly 3000 km), including left nephrectomy, partial hepatectomy, cholecystectomy, and cystectomy, were performed on a swine model with a 5G wireless network connection using a domestically produced "MicroHand" surgical robot. The average network delay, operative time, blood loss, and intraoperative complications were recorded.

Results: Four laparoscopic telesurgeries were safely performed through a 5G network, with an average network delay of 264 ms (including a mean round-trip transporting delay of 114 ms and a 1.20% data packet loss ratio). The total operation time was 2 h. The total blood loss was 25 ml, and no complications occurred during the procedures.

Conclusions: Ultra-remote laparoscopic surgery can be performed safely and smoothly with 5G wireless network connection using domestically produced equipment. More importantly, our model can provide insights for promoting the future development of telesurgery, especially in areas where Internet cables are difficult to lay or cannot be laid.

Keywords: 5G network; Computer assisted surgery; Network delay; Robot; Telesurgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Loss, Surgical
  • China
  • Cholecystectomy / instrumentation
  • Cystectomy / instrumentation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hepatectomy / instrumentation
  • Intraoperative Complications / etiology
  • Laparoscopy / instrumentation*
  • Nephrectomy / instrumentation
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures / instrumentation*
  • Robotics / instrumentation*
  • Swine
  • Telemedicine / instrumentation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wireless Technology / instrumentation