TechnologyAugmented Reality in Surgery

Augmented Reality in Surgery


Augmented reality (AR) is like a mix of real life and a bunch of computer stuff. It’s when you look at things through a special device like your phone or glasses, and you see extra things that aren’t there.

These extra things can be pictures, info, or even make-believe characters. Using this augmented reality in surgery opens up countless possibilities.

Think of it as a digital overlay of the physical world you see. Through devices like smartphones, tablets, or special AR glasses, you can experience this merging of real and virtual elements.

In augmented reality, the real-world environment serves as a backdrop, while digital information is superimposed onto it. 

augmented reality in surgery
Source: unlimphotos/ Wavebreakmedia

For instance, imagine pointing your smartphone at a historical landmark. Through AR, you could see historical facts and figures floating above the landmark.

Table of Contents

1. The Vast Scope of AR

1.1 Fun and Learning:

Imagine studying science by seeing 3D models of cells right on your desk, or exploring history by watching famous events unfold in your room. AR makes learning more exciting and memorable.

1.2 Shopping and Trying Before Buying:

Ever wanted to see how that new sofa looks in your living room before you buy it? AR can help with that. You can use your phone to put a virtual version of the sofa in your space to see if it fits and looks good.

1.3 Healthcare and Surgery:

Doctors use AR to get super details about patients’ insides during surgery. This assists them in surgeries and offers more safety and accuracy. Read on to learn more about this particular aspect of AR.

1.4 Architecture and Design:

Architects can use AR to create virtual buildings before constructing them. It’s like testing a design before spending a lot of money on materials.

1.5 Repair and Maintenance:

Having AR assist you in common household repairs is like having a virtual handyman.

1.6 Entertainment and Movies:

Remember Pokémon Go? It is heavily based on AR where you find virtual Pokémon in the real world. Likewise, movie makers use AR to bring imaginary creatures and places to life on the big screen.

1.7 Navigation and Directions:

AR can guide you around a new place. Imagine walking around a city and arrows showing up on your glasses, telling you where to go.

1.9 Art and Creativity:

Artists use AR to make interactive paintings or sculptures. When you look at them through a device, they come alive with animations and sounds.

1.10 Travel and Virtual Tourism:

Explore famous landmarks and places you’ve never been to, all through AR. It’s like taking a virtual trip without leaving your room.

1.11 Sports and Training:

Athletes can practice and improve using AR. Imagine a virtual coach giving you tips while you play.

1.12 Communication and Social Interaction:

You could leave virtual notes for your friends in specific places, and they can see them when they’re nearby.

Museums and Exhibits: Museums can use AR to make their exhibits more realistic. You could see dinosaurs moving around or historical figures talking to you.

2. Role of AR in the Healthcare

By: Everything possible on Unlimphotos

2.1 Assisting People with Disabilities

2.1.1. Visual Assistance:

For those who are visually impaired, AR can act as a helpful guide. Imagine wearing AR glasses that describe the surroundings, like reading signs or identifying objects. These glasses can help them navigate safely.

2.1.2. Real-Time Captioning:

AR can be used to show captions for spoken words in real time. For people who are deaf, this means they can understand what’s being said around them through text displayed on an AR device. 

2.1.3. Navigation Assistance:

Getting around in a new place can be challenging for those with mobility issues.

2.1.4. Education and Learning:

AR can make learning more inclusive. Imagine a student with a learning disability using AR to see explanations and examples right on their textbook pages. 

2.1.5. Social Interaction:

AR can bridge gaps in social interaction. For example, someone with autism might struggle with reading social cues.

2.1.6. Job Opportunities:

AR can create job opportunities for people with disabilities. For instance, AR glasses can provide instructions for tasks and make it easier for them to work effectively. 

2.2 Assistance at Home

2.2.1. Independence:

AR can make homes more accessible. Imagine appliances and devices that can be controlled through AR, allowing someone with physical disabilities to manage things like lights, temperature, and appliances without needing to move around too much. 

2.2.2. Communication Support:

People with speech disabilities can use AR to communicate. They can type or choose words on a device, and the AR can turn those words into spoken sentences. 

2.2.3. Assistive Reminders:

People with memory issues can benefit from AR reminders. AR glasses could remind people to take their medication, or complete tasks, helping them stay organized. 

2.2.4. Virtual Social Support:

People who might feel isolated due to disabilities can connect with others virtually through AR.

2.3 Training Future Doctors

DCStudion on Unlimphotos

Doctors-in-training put on special glasses that act like magic windows. Through these glasses, they can see surgeries happening like they’re watching a cool movie. But here’s the twist – it’s not real, it’s all pretend.

They see fake surgeries on a pretend body, like in a video game. Now, imagine these glasses showing tips and hints while they practice. 

It’s like having a friendly coach giving them advice. Plus, these glasses can make the inside of our bodies visible, like a see-through puzzle.

Students can explore bones, organs, and stuff using the glasses. Learning about the body becomes a bit like an awesome adventure. Think of these AR glasses as superhero training tools. 

They let students learn tricky things without worrying about making mistakes with real people. So, when they become real doctors, they’re already super skilled and confident. It’s like practising a game before playing for real. 

3. Role of Augmented Reality in Surgery?

The Future of Augmented Reality - AR in Healthcare

Picture a scenario where a surgeon is in the middle of operating. Now, imagine that the surgeon isn’t just relying on their eyes and hands, but they’re also using a special kind of technology that’s a bit like magical glasses or a super smart screen.

These special glasses or screens are part of augmented reality (AR) technology.

They can show the surgeon a mix of the real world (the operating room) and digital information. It’s like the surgeon is wearing a tool that brings a helpful virtual layer into their real-world work environment.

With these AR screens, the surgeon can see things that are hidden inside the patient’s body without making big cuts. It’s as if they have x-ray vision, just like superheroes in comics! 

The technology uses data from scanners and cameras to create a digital map of what’s happening inside the patient. This virtual map might show important things like where blood vessels are, where to cut, and where to be very careful.

The surgeon can follow this digital map while they work, almost like a GPS guiding them through a tricky path. The surgeon can do their job while getting extra help from the virtual world.

The Microsoft HoloLens was recently used in 35 orthopedic surgeries. Read on to learn about the results and conclusions that were drawn from it. 

3.1 Microsoft HoloLens

Imagine having a virtual screen in front of you where you can watch videos, see your emails, or play games. But the screen isn’t there – it’s just in your glasses! You can even place virtual objects on your real furniture, like setting a digital cup of coffee on your table. 

3.1.1 Interaction:

You can use your hands and voice to control what happens. Imagine pinching your fingers together to move a holographic object or telling the HoloLens to open a virtual menu by just saying it out loud. 

Architects can design buildings and see how they’d look in real surroundings before starting construction. Engineers can collaborate on projects by adding to the same table, even if they’re in different places. And then there’s gaming. 

Imagine playing a game where characters pop up in your room. You can walk around them, and they seem as real as the chair you’re sitting on. It’s like bringing games from the screen into your space, making things super exciting and immersive.

The HoloLens isn’t just for professionals or gamers. It can also make learning fun and interactive. You could have a virtual teacher explaining complex ideas using 3D models right on your desk. Or maybe you’re learning about history and virtual scenes from the past appear around you, making history come alive in a new way.

3.2 Use of Augmented Reality in Surgery in Recent Years

In recent news, thirteen orthopaedic surgeons from a Swiss university performed 25 orthopaedic procedures using the HoloLens headset by Microsoft.

The headset provided patient-specific anatomic information in 3 dimensions. A 100-point grading was formed using 58 questions. These were the results:

  • Image quality: 85 +- 17 points
  • Accuracy of virtual objects: 84 +- 19 points
  • Comfort of headset: 79 +- 13 points
  • Functionality of voice commands: 68 +- 20 points
  • Functionality of gestures: 66 +- 20 points
  • Surgical correction of deformities: 87 +- 15 points
  • Demand for future access: 75 +- 22 points

We can see the functionality of voice commands and hand gestures provided fairly less favourable results. However, the procedure was mostly a success and there is always room for improvement!

4. Challenges of Using Augmented Reality in Surgery

Augmented Reality in Surgery | Christopher Morley, Medivis

It would be wrong to portray only one side of the story. Naturally, with every man-made invention, there is always room for error. However, these errors don’t necessarily need to be looked down on!

When we look at how far we’ve come concerning technological advancements, it is almost impossible to believe. Here are some limitations of using augmented reality in surgery:

Sometimes these glasses can be a bit tricky. They might show the virtual things in the wrong spot or they might glitch and disappear suddenly. Imagine if a doctor is trying to see a map of a patient’s insides, but the map suddenly goes poof!

That could be a problem. Also, these glasses need super good internet and computer power. If the internet is slow or the computer gets slow, the virtual things might not work properly.

Imagine if you’re watching a video and it keeps buffering. It’s like that but during surgery. And time is of utmost importance during surgeries as we all know!

Another challenge is that sometimes the virtual stuff might not look real enough. Imagine if a doctor is trying to use the glasses to see tiny blood vessels, but they look fuzzy or blurry.

That could make it hard for the doctor to do the surgery right. Plus, wearing these glasses, like any other glasses, can sometimes be uncomfortable.

5.1 Challenges in Comfort

They might be heavy or not fit very well. Now, imagine a doctor trying to focus on surgery, but the glasses keep sliding down their nose. That wouldn’t be great. Oh, and there’s something called “calibration.”

It’s like making sure the virtual stuff matches the real stuff perfectly. If the glasses aren’t calibrated just right, it could be like trying to put a puzzle piece in the wrong spot – it just wouldn’t fit.

And let’s not forget distractions. These glasses can show a lot of info, but too much info can be overwhelming.

5.2 Ethical Aspects of Using Augmented Reality in Surgery

Okay, so when we’re talking about using cool technology like AR in surgery, there are a bunch of important things to think about. Let’s break them down: 

5.2.1. Patient Safety:

First and foremost, the main goal of any surgery is to keep the patient safe and well. With AR, while it’s exciting and helpful, we need to make sure that the virtual stuff we’re seeing doesn’t distract the surgeon or cause any errors.

It’s like making sure the surgeon’s attention stays where it’s most needed: on the patient’s health. 

5.2.2. Data Security:

Now, imagine all the information about the patient’s body and health that AR uses. This is super sensitive stuff. We have to make sure that this data is kept private and safe from any hackers or people who shouldn’t be looking at it. Just like you wouldn’t want your secrets to be shared, patient information needs strong protection. 

5.2.3. Patient Consent:

Using AR in surgery isn’t a decision only doctors make. Patients have a say too. They need to know what’s going on and how AR will be used during their surgery. Patient consent is like giving a thumbs-up to using AR and knowing how it can affect their treatment. 

5.2.4. Ethical Considerations:

When we say “ethical,” we mean doing things the right way, with fairness and respect. With AR, we need to think about whether it’s okay to record parts of surgeries or to store patient information in virtual ways. It’s about making sure that the technology is used in a good and responsible manner.

So, when it comes to using AR in surgery, we have to always keep patient safety as the top priority. We must safeguard patient data from any security risks, ensure patients are well-informed and give their consent for AR usage, and make sure that using this technology follows ethical guidelines.

6. What the Future Holds for AR

The Future of Augmented Reality: 10 Awesome Use Cases

Well, no one can tell what the future holds. We can only hope for the best and make the best of what we have now. However certain add-ons for AR just take its accessibility to the next level!

6.1 Incorporation of Robotics:

Imagine if surgeons had little robot helpers by their side. These robots are fed with synchronized data directly from the algorithm.

It can hold tools, move stuff around, and even do tiny tasks that humans find tough. When AR joins forces with these robots, it’s like a superhero team-up. 

6.1.1. Precise Planning:

Surgeons can use AR to map out the surgery on a virtual model before even touching the patient. Then, the robots can follow this plan exactly during the surgery. It’s like having a blueprint for building something. 

6.1.2. Virtual X-ray Vision:

AR can show surgeons things like blood vessels and nerves that are hiding under the skin. With robots, they can operate carefully and avoid damaging these sensitive parts. 

6.1.3. Guided Precision:

AR can show surgeons exactly where to cut, stitch, or place implants. Robots can then execute these actions with super accuracy. 

6.1.4. Less Invasiveness:

Robots can make small, delicate movements that humans might find hard to do. This means surgeries can be less invasive, with smaller cuts and faster recovery for patients. 

6.1.5. Remote Control:

Imagine a surgeon in one city controlling a robot in another city for surgery. AR lets the surgeon see through the robot’s eyes, almost like they’re there. This can help patients in faraway places get specialized care. 

6.2 Assistance in Human Qualities

6.2.1. Steady Hands:

Robots don’t get shaky like human hands sometimes do. With AR helping guide the robots, surgeries become super steady and controlled. 

6.2.2. Teamwork:

Surgeons and robots become a powerful team. Robots can handle routine tasks, freeing up the surgeon’s mind to focus on the important parts of the surgery. 

6.2.3. Learning and Sharing:

When a surgeon does something well, the AR system can save that action. Later, other surgeons or robots can learn from it. It’s like sharing a super skier. 

6.2.4. Futuristic Possibilities:

In the future, super-smart robots might even do some surgeries on their own. AR can guide them through every step, making sure everything goes perfectly.

6.3. Latest AR Software 2023

The Microsoft HoloLens is kind of dated with its 2.4MP camera. As of 2023, there are many improvements.

6.3.1. Iristick Z1

The Z1 premium is the flagship product of Iristick. The Z1’s primary objective is to reduce the errors of the previous models. Additionally, it offers a whopping 720p 30fps video quality!

It also offers barcode scanning, iOS and Android compatibility, and a 5MP camera with 6X optical zoom. Incorporating such AR in surgery would make the current scenario miles better

6.3.2. Epson Moverio BT-200

This latest wearable display by Epson promises a floating 80-inch perceived screen. Apart from the usual Epson features, the Moverio BT-200 supports a 32 GB Micro SD card along with the 1 GB internal storage.

What’s more, you can just tune the settings to the darkest shade, and voila! you got yourself a pair of sunglasses.

7. Conclusion

The previous section is crucial because the features mentioned there are sometimes just too good to be true. However, this was not always the case.

The advancements we have seen in technology in recent years are staggering. Who knows what impossible features may get implemented in the future?

What we do know is that it is our job to control and shape this technology to the best of human needs. For this post, we mean using it in the healthcare field, specifically for surgery.



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