AR Headsets could soon be used in the Operating Theatre

A balanced and detailed report on use of augmented reality in surgery can be found on ZNet today.

The article draws on the work on Heart Surgeon Dr Maksymilian Opolski of the Waraw Insittue of Cardiology, who first tested glasses for a heart operation in 2015 when he navigated inside the patient’s heart sing pictures projected onto the heads-up display (HUD).

The article describes the operation that was carried out and how Opolski used Google Glass’ augmented reality glasses to guide the catheter through the veins to the heart.

He has now led a 15-patient pilot of the technology that could pave the way for the use of such wearables more widely in future wwhich he referred to as being a “natural consequence” of the procedure in 2015.

The article states that “the difference in preparing for augmented reality and traditional surgery is only a matter of a few minutes of training, thanks to the “simple and intuitive” nature of the app, says Opolski. Cardiologists could navigate through the images of the patient’s heart using voice commands — not just making the software easy to use, but also ideal for maintaining the sterile conditions of the operating theatre

After 15 operations with the Google Glass and accompanying app, Opolski and his team’s research has shown the technology is “not only feasible and safe, but also does not interfere with the routine activities performed in the catheterization laboratory by operators”. The chances of having an ‘adverse event’ — such as a heart attack — was found to be the same for with-Glass operations and without Glass.

While the study was too small to provide a definitive answer to whether the Glass-assisted operations were better for patients than those conducted without the tech, there are hints that AR can bring some benefits. Operations where surgeons wore Glass tended to use less contrast to visualise the course of the vessels, which can be beneficial to patients that react to the dye. It also helped surgeons better choose which types of guidewire to use during the operation.

Positively, the surgeons who used the Glass during the PCI operations reported high levels of satisfaction with the technology, and indicated they would be amenable to using the kit in their regular surgical work, meaning that it may not be too long before we see more use of AR headsets in the operating theatre.

The full article can be read here.

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