Hardly any other task requires as much sensitivity as a medical procedure. The surgeons have to perform millimetre-exact work on their patients, whether they are working on the spinal column, minimally invasive or straightening a bone. Any distraction must be avoided. Despite all of this, they need to look at the x-ray or camera image that is displayed on the monitor to get ahead. With Augmented Reality, this can soon be a thing of the past.
As a futurist, I have to be able to dare to look to the future. Not like a fortune-teller, but by interpreting the signals of our time. It is therefore not unrealistic that augmented reality will make its way into the operating room in the next five years. The ideal scenario is that the surgeon puts his data glasses on and gets a glimpse of the patient’s body. What has been running on the separate monitors and devices so far, is now right in the field of view. Vital signs, x-rays, clues and recommendations. Sounds like a futuristic dream, doesn’t it?
AR Healthcare today
A recent announcement by Philips makes this scenario more tangible. They have developed a new type of navigation technology for minimally invasive spinal surgery. Using optical tracking systems, information from the patient and live images of the body are delivered to monitors in the operating room, which show the surgeon exactly where he or she needs to start in order to achieve the best result.
“This unique augmented-reality technology is an example of how we expand our capabilities with innovative solutions in growth areas such as spine, neuro and trauma surgery,” Ronald Tabaksblat, Business Leader Image-Guided Therapy Systems at Philips
Even if no headset is mentioned in the announcement, adapting the technology to data glasses, such as the HoloLens, is not far from reality.
In order to establish this connection, a cooperation with the Technical University of Munich (TUM) would be possible. For years now, experiments have been conducted there with Augmented Reality in surgery.
“We are working on systems that make patient information and what is currently happening visible at a glance and in real time”, Nassir Navab, Chair of Informatics Applications in Medicine & Augmented Reality in an interview with VDI Nachrichten
Up to now, the TUM has used the so-called Camera Augmented Mobile C-Arm (CamC), which takes up to twelve x-ray images and places them on the data glasses. With Philips’ more sophisticated technology and the experience of the Technical University, the future scenario “AR Healthcare” can quickly become reality.
Post picture: Philips