How AR Will Make Surgery Safer

Take a look at how Augmented Reality will disrupt the healthcare industry and improve safety

 The ability to superimpose computer generated images into the physical world used to be limited to science fiction, but soon augmented reality, or AR, promises to change the way we interact with the physical world through wearable technology. So, what does this mean for the medical industry?

Massive changes are already underway in surgical suites as AR has begun rolling out for controlled tests. Developers are working to utilize wearables, like Google Glass and the Microsoft HoloLens, to minimize the risks associated with going under the knife. Here’s a few ways AR will be changing operating rooms in the future. 

Immersive Training

Universities and medical centers are already utilizing holographic simulations to train students. Rather than using dozens of costly mannequins which limit what what is done in training sessions, AR can provide limitless simulations from one headset. For surgeons, AR’s portability and ultra-realistic graphics will help guide them through a surgery before ever stepping into the operating room. With this new way to practice, surgeons and residents can also feel more confident during bedside procedures where the environment is less controlled.  

Improved Accuracy

The ability to manipulate computer generated images will give users the ability to enlarge and explore areas of the body that are typically difficult to get to. Preliminary developments for the use of AR in risky operations, such as spinal surgery, are currently underway to decrease the surgeons dependence on MRI and CT images. Instead, a virtual reconstruction of the patient’s anatomy can be overlayed on the exposure site.

With an enhance view of the body, doctors can work more accurately, especially when it comes to working with small blood vessels during reconstructive surgery.

Screenless Operating Rooms

Arguably the most important advancement AR will provide is eliminating screens from the operating room. Surgeons rely on monitor displays to read patient vitals, look at endoscopic camera feeds and read EKGs. Headsets and glasses equipped with AR technology will minimize the time surgeons spend looking away from the procedure they are performing and, unlike monitors, images will be displayed in 3D for a more accurate view of structures .

While augmented reality assisted surgeries aren’t common yet, there is no doubt that AR and wearable technology will have a heavy presence in the hospitals of the future. Companies like MedCognition are already working to make AR equipment a reality. Their technology will train the next generation of medical professionals and help make safer surgeries and improved patient care a reality. Everyone from relationship coaches to therapist are using augment reality technology.

How is Augmented Reality Being Used in Medicine?

Augmented Reality in the healthcare industry is groundbreaking. Right now technological advancements like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) are key factors driving the current business growth in healthcare. With the help of these key factors, especially AR, healthcare professionals are now able to perform medical procedures with more precision and accuracy. How might you ask?

In simple terms, AR uses computer technology to generate virtual objects and integrate them into the real environment. AR isn’t new in the field of medicine; in fact, it has been around since 2005 when a device called a near-infrared vein finder was used to help healthcare professionals locate patients’ veins. Fast forward to now, and we have more advanced devices such as Computerized Axial Tomography which allows doctors to look deeper inside the human body and TeleHealth which is used for communication by healthcare professionals in remote areas.

3 Ways Augmented Reality is Being Used in Healthcare

Treatment For Disabilities

AR has also become a major part in treating different disabilities and impairments. An example of this is the use of NuEyes, a pair of smart glasses that help enhance the way visually impaired patients see. Brain Power, on the other hand, is an AR-based software which helps transform wearable devices such as Google Glasses into neuro-assistive AI systems that help people who have mental challenges such as autism. Here’s a video from Brain Power about the software and how it can help people with autism gain self-sufficiency and change their lives for the better.

Augmented Surgery

Augmented Surgery can do what no man was ever capable of doing. With humans in power of Augmented Surgery, we can stitch as something small as a grape.

Further, surgeons and doctors can now see their patients wherever they are in the country or the world. Even in remote war-torn areas where no medical team would dare to go near, surgeons from all over the globe can now perform extremely advanced surgery using Augmented Reality.

Ultrasound Through AR

AR has revolutionized the way doctors perform ultrasounds for patients. Dr. Amitabh Varshney together with Dr. Sarah Murthi, professors at the University of Maryland developed an AR system which displays real-time ultrasound data through AR headsets. With the use of AR headsets, doctors are able to see a unified view of an ultrasound data gathered by a probe directly attached to the patient. In this video, you’ll see another AR-based software being used to help healthcare practitioners perform an ultrasound.

Augmented reality has come a long way with surgery, ultrasound, and treatment for disabilities such as vision impairment and autism. A lot of researchers today are making groundbreaking discoveries that can help revolutionize the way healthcare professionals execute medical procedures and enhance the way people educate themselves in health. Augmented Reality will continue to make great advances in healthcare and medicine for years to come.

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In medicine we are faced with nearly 13,000 diagnoses, over 6,000 medications and over 4,000 procedures. The variety of clinical venues and numerous individual patient contexts creates tremendous complexity.  Context is king in making the correct assessment.  Misreading or missing one detail can change everything in the evaluation and treatment of a patient.