You must be familiar with applications of Augmented reality in various customer-centric sectors like Retail, advertising, gaming, entertainment, etc. But, nowadays this cutting-edge technology AR has also started to enter into the highly skill-based areas, e.g. healthcare sector.
Yes! use of Augmented Reality in the healthcare industry is becoming a new evolution. In fact, it extends to medical education, training, patient care and surgical procedures. In this blog post, I will discuss about various Augmented reality surgery procedures.
Also, with the help of these techniques, I will demonstrate the most innovative ways to utilize Augmented reality in medical field. In fact, you will be amazed to know that how medical Augmented reality is rapidly blurring the lines between fiction and reality in the healthcare sector.
5 Stunning Augmented Reality Surgery Techniques:
Well, before proceeding to various Augmented reality surgical techniques, let me explain the importance of Augmented reality in surgery. And, why the healthcare industry and highly skilled surgeons are interested to make their hands dirty with such a technology that develop games like Pokémon go.
Augmented Reality in Surgery :-
In simple words, role of Augmented Reality in surgery is to overlay (AR Overlay) useful virtual information into the surgeon’s real-world view. This information can consist of patient vital signs, X-ray images, CT-scan, real-time position of surgical tools or complicated 3d models of a patient’s anatomy.
The real-time integration and interactive nature of augmented reality enable surgeons to plan and perform surgery in a more efficient way. Yes! in a few cases, AR helps surgeons to plan pre-surgery activities and in some other cases, it works as a virtual-assistant during the surgery itself.
Although, a number of techniques exist to help doctors and surgeons, I have shortlisted few best techniques for you. And, these techniques precisely demonstrate the effectiveness of Augmented reality surgery over the conventional procedures.
#1. Virtual Surgery Simulator
My first selection is not an actual surgical procedure but it’s a technique to learn and practice the surgery through the augmented reality platform. But, the question is that “Why there is a need of virtual simulators to learn such complex surgical procedures?”
And, the answer lies within the question itself. Yes! due to its complexity, surgery needs a lot of practice along with the theoretical knowledge.
Also, due to patient safety and limited no. of highly skilled surgeons, the conventional approach of surgical training “See one, Do one, Teach one” is no longer feasible in current scenario. The company Touch Surgery comes with a unique solution for this problem.
It provides an Augmented reality platform to simulate and learn various surgical steps. And, that too in a very realistic and interactive manner. Let’s have a look on the YouTube video of Touch Surgery.
Thus, the fusion of Augmented reality in the conventional knowledge of surgery procedures can make medical education accessible to every surgeon.
Nevertheless, Augmented Reality surgery simulator programs like Touch Surgery redefine the concept of surgical training from “See one, Do one, Teach one” to “See one, Simulate many, Do one and Teach many”.
#2. Reconstructive Facial Augmented Reality Surgery
Here, I will explain the utilization of Augmented reality in the field of Plastic and reconstructive surgery. At first, surgeons scan the 3D images of the patient face using a high resolution camera setup.
After that, other information (e.g. position of underlying bones) is captured from the CT-scans of the patient face. Now, after merging all this information and digitally correcting the damaged portion of the face, one final realistic 3D model is generated. This 3D model is the desired result of the Facial Reconstructive Surgery.
Finally, Augmented reality comes into the action. Yes! wearing a pair of Augmented reality glass or AR headset, surgeons can superimpose this 3D model over the real face of the patient during the surgery.
Are you willing to know Reconstructive Facial Augmented reality surgery in depth? You can read the study published in the global journal “Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery“.
#3. Projection Type Augmented Reality Surgery
As the name suggests, this Augmented Reality surgery works on the concept of Projection-based AR. Here, in the context of medical Augmented reality, an image like CT-scan or X-ray is projected directly on the patient.
In other words, with the help of AR, a subjected portion of the patient’s body is augmented (enhanced) with the addition of a virtual informative image. Also, this image always aligns perfectly with the movement of a patient’s body.
Moreover, this AR system also enables the surgeon to switch between a set of virtual images (e.g., bones, internal organs, blood vessels, etc.). Thus, the perfect fusion of virtual images with the patient’s body works like a see-through screen for surgeons.
Literally, it provides an X-Ray vision to the surgeon, wearing a pair of Augmented Reality glasses (e.g. Microsoft HoloLens). The below YouTube video demonstrates the working of such an Augmented reality surgery system, named ProjectDR.
I know the next question that flashes in your mind: – “How does this X-Ray vision of Projection Augmented reality surgery technique help surgeons?”
OK, this X-Ray vision doesn’t just enable a surgeon to virtually see inside the body rather he can navigate through this virtual 3D map. Thus, it helps a surgeon to precisely locate and operate the organ, nerve, tumor etc.
#4. Heads-up Display Type Augmented Reality Surgery
Well, you know the functions of Heads-up display (HUD), mounted in your automobile. In the context of medical Augmented reality, heads-up display projects the real-time surgeon’s view merged with virtual information on a display screen or on a pair of semi-transparent glasses.
This information consists of CT-scan images, X-Ray images, real-time position of surgical tool or even a virtual 3D model of any organ. Moreover, in this Augmented reality surgery technique, the surgeon can project the superimposed view near the patient itself. Thus, he can keep his eyes always on the operating field instead of looking in different directions.
Medical Augmented Reality companies like Augmedics and Scopis medical are developing Augmented reality surgery systems for spine surgery. While Scopis is using Microsoft HoloLens for this purpose, Augmedics uses its own AR headset, called ViZOR.
The below YouTube video explains the Scopis Surgical navigation system.
#5. Augmented Reality Dentistry
One of the most useful applications of Augmented reality is to virtually try a piece of cloth in a cloth store and feel “how it will look like afterwards?”. Now, the dental industry has started to utilize the same concept.
A Swiss startup, named Kapanu has developed an Augmented reality program with similar intent. Yes!, a patient can now visualize his teeth and know how they’ll look like after a dental procedure or surgery.
Like many Augmented reality apps, this also utilizes the concept of AR overlay. In this case, the virtual 3D image of a new set of teeth is superimposed over the real video of the patient’s mouth. In fact, this 3D simulation reflects the outcome of the dental procedure or surgery.
The below YouTube video demonstrates the future of dentistry using Augmented Reality.
Moreover, the patient can also tweak the size and shape of teeth according to his choice. Thus, the fusion of Augmented reality in the conventional dental procedures makes Kapanu a leading software for the dental industry.