The potential benefits of Augmented Reality are quickly gaining traction all across the world and not just for entertainment. In a world-first, doctors in Boston performed a successful surgery with the help of AR.
Augmented Reality in the past
For many years, the idea of Augmented Reality impacting our day-to-day lives was something that would remain bound to our imaginations and the sci-fi-themed media we consume – an artificial luxury from our distant future.
However, looking at where we are today, that future might be upon us. In the past few years, we’ve seen numerous startups and products as the fields of VR (Virtual Reality) and AR have expanded. Many of these companies promise to change many aspects of our lives like gaming, education, how we interact over long distances, and even the medical profession.
Surgery and Augmented reality
In many cases, those promises are being kept. In one of the most groundbreaking surgeries in recent history, AR went beyond helping to train surgeons – as per the usual notion of AR in medicine. Instead, they use of Augmented Reality played a pivotal role in the success of the medical procedure.
“We’re going to a place in medicine that has just never existed before,” Dr. Steven Murphy – an orthopaedic surgeon at the New England Baptist Hospital – said of the results of the breakthrough hip replacement procedure.
Dr. Murphy is also the founder of Surgical Planning Associates and developer of Hipinsight, the intra-operative Augmented Reality guidance system that was used throughout the procedure.
How does it work?
The platform dubbed ‘Hipinsights’ works by loading a set of 3-dimensional images of the patient’s exact anatomy onto a pair/s of suitable headsets – specifically Microsoft’s HoloLense 2 Mixed Reality headset.
A specialized tracking system is then attached to the patient. Once ready, the lenses are synchronized with the tracking system, giving Dr. Murphy and his team a 3D view of the patient’s anatomical details as they operated.
“What this does is it takes all the critical three-dimensional information of that patient and puts it right where you want it, when you want it, in real-time,” Dr. Murphy said.
One could think of it as giving doctors a real-time X-ray view of the patient which gives them a whole new level of exactitude.
“Little differences turn out to be big differences for the patient. Being able to lock in and be sure that everything you’re doing is exactly what you planned and you’re accomplishing exactly what you’re setting out to do, is a difference-maker for surgery,” Murphy added.
Dr Murphy’s system was approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as early as January 28 and it did not take them long to get to work. North Atlantic Surgery Suites in Salem, New Hampshire, used the system to assist with a hip replacement procedure only a month later. Dr. Murphy hopes that the system can be adapted for other procedures like knee replacements in the near future.