Augmented Reality Technology in Medicine and Spine Surgery


More recently, there has been an event in the medical world that will possibly change the entire future of surgery. Johns Hopkins neurosurgeons performed the first augmented reality surgeries on living patients. The operations were successful. How did augmented reality end up in the operating room?

Augmented Reality and Medicine

In performing operations, surgeons and assistants often need access to some information regarding surgical planning and procedures related to the process itself or ancillary equipment for performing specific operations. It is trite, but the availability of this information often depends on the human factor. You cannot have an assistant next to you when you need it. So why not offer some of this work to artificial intelligence?

Forbes writes that the global pandemic has forced healthcare to accelerate adaptation and develop new ways to manage processes in our new daily realities. Without a doubt, these realities are pushing us to create solutions that can be simultaneously accessible, remote, and secure.

These new technologies offer a significant advantage in complex procedures requiring high precision and accuracy using minimally invasive techniques.

What is known about augmented reality and healthcare today?

Data from the Statista website says training simulations will be the main application of immersive technology in the healthcare sector over the next two years, according to 68 percent of XR industry experts who responded to the 2020 survey.

Medical students have been using augmented reality for blood clot removal and organ implantation operations for several years now. However, the transition from training to regular use in surgery takes longer.

Results and Discussions

The augmented reality system, created by the custom software development team, provides the surgeon with computer-processed image data using specialized hardware and software in real-time. AR projection is possible with displays, projectors, cameras, trackers, or other specialized equipment. The simplest surgery method is based on superimposing computer graphics on authentic images captured by a camera and displaying their combination on a computer, tablet, or video projector.

Augmented Reality Technology and Spine Surgery

One of the promising ways AR can provide valuable intraoperative assistance to the spinal surgeon is through pedicle screw fixation. The existing standard for pedicle screw placement during the spine needs to be improved. In a comprehensive study of 4,790 transpedicular screws, 5.1% of abnormalities were recorded, which is an alarming number that requires urgent attention (7). AR allows surgeons not to take the field of view away from the patient during the procedure but instead maintain their gaze while assessing the appropriate trajectories and anatomy.

Final thoughts

Augmented reality has the potential to impact new possibilities in surgery significantly. Surgeons can use additional data to make decisions and improve safety and efficiency. Augmented reality devices help display information faster and with much greater accuracy than previous technologies. Despite the constant improvement, several challenges need to be addressed. Currently, all reconstructed images must be prepared in advance using complex algorithms that require powerful computers.

Research shows that AR systems are becoming comparable to traditional navigation methods, with the accuracy and safety sufficient for daily clinical practice. In the future, AR, created by a dedicated development team, will serve as an advanced human-computer interface that works in symbiosis with surgeons, allowing them to achieve even better results.

Author’s bio: Anastasiia Lastovetska is a technology writer at MLSDev, a software development company that builds web & mobile app solutions from scratch. She researches the area of technology to create great content about app development, UX/UI design, tech & business consulting.


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