Augmented reality in phlebology practice: Is it essential?

From an article on Venous News by Anelise Rodrigues, Brazil about the use of AR in phlebology.  Like many other industries, the shape of healthcare and medicine is being transformed by the emergence of new technologies. Phlebology, is no different. While there are still concerns with the potential limitations and complications of implementing a new system for treating veins—addressed by Rodrigues in her article—augmented reality (AR) could also represent the future for venous specialists.

In this modern age, technology has become so intertwined with our own lives that we no longer notice how embedded it is in our day-to-day activities. Furthermore, it is accepted that in just a few years, many of today’s jobs will not even exist. When it comes to medicine, the situation is no different; each day there is something new going on, and to row against the stream does not seem to be the best way of navigating the waves of technological change.

In 2006, Kasuo Miyake et al published an article entitled “Vein imaging: a new method of near infrared imaging, where a processed image is projected onto the skin for the enhancement of vein treatment,” describing the use of augmented reality (AR) for vein treatment. Since that time, many improvements have arrived and the tool has been incorporated as part of many phlebologists’ daily routine.

When the work was published in 2006, it was proven that AR could identify veins that were invisible to the naked eye and too shallow for ultrasound detection—today, some high frequency US transducers can also identify and measure those veins. The AR devices emit a near infrared light, which is absorbed by the blood and reflected by adjacent tissues. The information is captured, processed and projected onto the skin surface in real time.

Real time imaging is especially useful when performing transdermal laser and CLaCS (Cryo-Laser Cryo-Sclerotherapy). It allows us to observe the vessel’s immediate response, its spasm and the effectiveness—or not—of our laser settings, and helps us to find the best spot for puncture after lasing, even on darker skin. Moreover, the technology allows us to always select the best projection colour for each type of skin, ensuring that we can see the image.

There are a few AR devices available, but the better the equipment, the faster its image processing and lesser the parallax effect (the difference we find between the vein’s real position and the projection we get from the device onto the skin). Nevertheless, there are a few easy tricks for punctures, such as aligning the needle image to the vein image, which help us to overcome this drawback.

Read the full original article here. 

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