Up until recently, I really didn’t realise that Israel was a tech hub but it really is. There are some really cool companies out there, including an Israeli startup called Augmedics which is planning to use AR to perform pre-visualisation spinal surgery operations! In a nutshell, that means superimposing an image of a patient’s spine that the surgeon can see at all times.
Using augmented reality headsets, surgeons will perform surgery in exquisite detail. Now, here’s the clever bit: it’s actually just the patient’s CT scan, but the surgeon can see the spine in detail and follow a plan of action from there.
This type of technology isn’t as far fetched as it may seem. In fact, it’s been revolutionising the healthcare space for years and its now only beginning to show of its true potential…
How does it work?
Projecting a patients spine in 3D sounds awesome doesn’t it? However, its so much more than that, as AR allows a surgeon to locate his or her tools in real time, even if it’s below the skin, as augmented reality is, essentially, just a superimposed image displayed in the real world!
So just to clarify, a patient’s CT scan is used to display the spine above the patient’s skin, allowing a surgeon to make informed decisions before any incisions are made.
It’s still obviously a very complicated operation to perform as, one way or another, the patient’s spine has to be worked on. I am sure that, as much as a scan of the spine helps, it will still be bloody painful! However, doctors already have the tools to do this so, when you think about it, this technology is just improving the chances of getting it right!
Apparently, doctors have to place markers on the patient’s body as well, to register the location of the spine. This way, even if the patient moves while breathing, Vizor, the headset, can automatically adjust the position of the spine in real time. As I mentioned above, Vizor can precisely display the location of a surgeon’s tool during the operation, as well.
When is it coming?
The technology isn’t viable just yet and you won’t see it in any hospitals for a while as their are strict guidelines that need be adhered to before it can be approved for use. Nonetheless, the point remains that AR will, and in many cases already is, changing the way that many operations are performed. I have no doubt that safety will be top priority in this crucial application of the technology, and it could be a valuable tool in every surgeon’s arsenal before long.
What do you think about using AR in surgery? Would you be happy with a surgeon using this kind of technology whilst operating on your spine? Let us know in the comments!