Surgeon does ‘world first’ brain surgery on patient 1,800 MILES AWAY

Surgeon performs ‘world first’ remote brain surgery on a Parkinson’s patient 1,800 MILES AWAY using machines controlled over 5G mobile network

  • Dr Ling Zhipei, from Beijing, is believed to have done the remote-controlled op
  • He put a deep brain stimulation implant into a patient with Parkinson’s disease
  • But at the time he was in the city of Sanya, on an island off China’s south coast
  • He says the technology will help treat people who live in remote areas
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A doctor has performed the first ever brain surgery over a 5G mobile network, according to Chinese media.

A patient with Parkinson’s disease allegedly had an implant put in their brain by a doctor who was more than 1,800miles away (3,000km).

The doctor who did the operation said the new technology could make it easier for medics to operate on people who live in more remote areas and can’t travel.

Dr Ling Zhipei (pictured), a surgeon who normally works in Beijing, has allegedly performed a deep brain stimulation implant operation from nearly 2,000 miles away

The operation was performed using surgical robots controlled by Dr Ling who connected to them through a 5G mobile network while he was working in another city. He hopes the technology will make it easier to treat people living in remote areas

Dr Ling Zhipei, a surgeon at the People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing, did the procedure while thousands of miles away, according to China Global Television Network (CGTN).

Using surgical robots he inserted a deep brain stimulation implant – a device used to try and control the tremors Parkinson’s patients suffer – into the patient’s brain.

The procedure was carried out on Saturday and lasted about three hours.

It isn’t clear exactly how Dr Ling controlled the machines from his location, only that he was able to use mobile internet to move them ‘almost in real time’.

Dr Ling was working in the city of Sanya on the island of Hainan, which is off the south coast of China, near Vietnam. Beijing, meanwhile, is in the north.

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Dr Ling said: ‘The 5G network has solved problems like video lag and remote control delay experienced under the 4G network, ensuring a nearly real-time operation,’ according to CGTN.

‘And you barely feel that the patient is 3,000 kilometers away.’


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) helps to control movement problems and is the main type of surgery used to treat Parkinson’s.

It involves implanting very fine wires with electrodes at their tips into the brain.

These are connected to extensions under the skin behind the ear and down the neck, which then connect to a pulse generator.

When the device is turned on, electrodes deliver high-frequency stimulation to the targeted area, which changes signals in the brain that cause Parkinson’s symptoms.

The brain is not destroyed in the process.

DBS is usually reversible.

It does not stop Parkinson’s progressing and is not a cure. 

Source: Parkinson’s UK 

A deep brain stimulation implant is a device which acts as a sort of pacemaker for the brain.

Electrodes are placed deep inside the organ and used to regulate electrical signals which pass through it.

Parkinson’s disease is caused by nerve damage in the brain which means electrical signals are uncontrolled, which can cause stiffness and shaking in muscles.

The incurable brain disease is thought to affect as many as 10million people globally – approximately 145,000 in the UK.

By regulating nerve signals the implant can help to bring a patient’s movements under control and restore normal muscle function.

Experts hope improvements in remote-controlled surgery will make it easier for people to have operations without travelling to major cities.

In a video posted on YouTube by New China TV, Dr Ling said: ‘We hope in the future we can take advantage of the 5G network to enable more hospitals to carry out remote surgery.

‘In this way more patients will be able to receive teatment at their local hospitals.’

Dr Ling performed the operation from Sanya, on the island of Hainan, while his patient was in Beijing more than 1,800miles (3,000km) away

The operation was performed with the help of the China Mobile network and and Huawei’s 5G technology.

CGTN said operations have already been carried out over 5G – notably a liver surgery last week – but not on neurosurgery patients.

The patient who received the brain implant from Dr Ling reportedly said ‘I feel good’, after the procedure. 

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