The first tele-mentored surgery over a 5G connection was performed between the Fira Gran Via and Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, with a renowned medical expert advising an in-theatre surgeon on a live operation in near real time.

During the procedure, Dr Antonio de Lacy, head of gastrointestinal surgery at the hospital, drew recommended incision points and pointed out potential problem areas on a screen at the venue.

In near real time directions on his screen appeared on a large display in the surgery room for reference of those performing the operation.

The procedure used a Vodafone-provided 5G connection and was done in partnership with online education portal the Advances in Surgery (AIS) Channel; Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, 5G Barcelona and Mobile World Capital. It was performed with the full consent of the patient.

Lacy said the first had “realised one of our dreams” adding he hoped to come back to future MWC events to showcase further advances in the sector.

Speaking before the operation, Vodafone Spain head of network deployment and optimisation Julia Velasco said: “5G allows low latency but also a high-quality image [on screen] at high speed. Using network slicing we can dedicate the services to the e-health service independent of the rest [of the network].”

The operator is working on a number of other health-related projects in the city including a connected ambulance pilot. Technologies used in that trial enable detailed monitoring of patients before they reach the hospital with the data accessible by staff within the building before the ambulance arrives.