New Augmented Reality Visor to Improve Surgical Accuracy

European scientists are developing a new Augmented Reality surgical visor in a bid to improve accuracy of interventions, by employing new photonics technology.  The visor will show anaesthetic and medical data while superimposing a patient’s x-ray in perfect unison with their body, meaning surgeons never having to look away during operations, significantly reducing surgery times.

The VOSTARS (‘Video Optical See-Through Augmented Reality surgical System’) medical visor is a head-mounted display (HMD) system that is capable of superimposing the patient’s x-ray images in perfect 3D unison with their anatomy.

The visor presents other patient data such as anaesthetic data, heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and breathing rates, projecting them conveniently into the surgeon’s field of vision.  This is intended to increase the surgeon’s accuracy by focusing on the operation and reduce time by never having to look away.

The project forecasts a significant improvement of the intervention accuracy coupled with a reduction in time spent in an operation and under anaesthetic by at least 11%.  Technology features include the use of photonics components, with the small, high-luminous micro display, the LED optical waveguide, and the array of microns to project a 2D x-ray image in front of the user.

Project coordinator Dr Vincenzo Ferrari, biomedical engineering researcher at the Department of Information Engineering, at the University of Pisa, said: “With this state-of-the-art, highly ergonomic visor, we intend to provide all the information required to improve surgery. The primary goal is to reduce not just surgery times, but also the time spent under anaesthetic and the cost involved in any operation.”

Quicker surgery coupled with a higher degree of accuracy provides clear implications for the benefits, to patients, surgeons and healthcare management institutions.

In the same way that a facing camera on a smartphone films moving images, the VOSTARS system works by capturing what the surgeon sees from a head-mounted camera. The system then ‘merges’ this footage of reality with the patient’s medical images, from CT, MRI, or 3DUS scans.

The central processor, using the most advanced registration techniques available for surgical navigation, then presents a real-time hybrid image on the visor ‘dashboard’ to the surgeon.  The clinician can move freely around the patient.


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