Is AR in Operation Theatres the new reality?

Tablets and smartphones have found surprisingly many uses in medicine. Complex procedures will remain no more complex. Delicate parts of anatomy can be handled with utmost and unheard-of precision. Late last year, engineers at Duke University announced that they were developing systems to test how Microsoft’s augmented reality device might provide doctors with extra information during brain surgery. And now, we have various examples of firms that have offered up further takes on how the HoloLens could be used during procedures.

Software company Scopis is designing a software to help during spinal surgery. It can help doctors see the scan and also provide a simulated view of how the metal rods used to repair vertebrae are being positioned during the procedure. Royal Philips, developer of integrated image-guided therapy solutions, has also developed an augmented-reality surgical navigation technology that is designed to help surgeons perform image-guided open and minimally-invasive spine surgery. The technology was shown to be significantly better with respect to overall accuracy, compared to pedicle screw placement without the aid of Philips’ augmented-reality surgical navigation technology.

Cambridge Consultants is working on a system that will enable surgeons to view a 3-D visualization of a patient’s organs by using results from MRI and CT scans. With additional information in front of them, surgeons should be able to take better-informed actions.

However, there is limited trust in these systems as of now. Surgeons and patients alike might not be comfortable about surgeries carried out based on data provided via a HoloLens. Doctors like to be sure of the technology they’re dealing with, so adoption of the most advanced surgical AR systems will be slow at first. However, we can see these systems put to use for less complex requirements.