The surgeon is about to get a few new tools. Some might even call them superpowers.
For years, surgeons have relied on microscope oculars or other camera systems to operate. Even so, they typically depend on their own eyes and interpretations to execute the most precise of tasks. In these cases, his or her head is down, thereby limiting peripheral vision and communication with staff, while straining his or her back and neck muscles for hours at a time.This is not a great combination of factors, especially during the most intense operations.
This past year, two of the most intricate surgical practices, ophthalmology and neurology, have been experimenting with new technology that not only keeps surgeons’ heads up, but also immerses the surgeon into a high resolution, 3D visual representation of their subject.These stereoscopic systems also use data to generate visual templates for surgeons to execute certain tasks within a surgery. Experts and surgeons that have piloted the new systems believe the added comfort and visual information will allow surgeries to operate more efficiently and effectively.Additionally, medical residents will now have a clearer picture of exactly what the surgeon is seeing and doing, thereby gaining a better anatomical and technical understanding of surgery than ever before.
Along the same lines, some of the nation’s biggest software companies are building augmented reality lenses that are capturing the imagination of both the surgeon and medical educator. Augmented reality glasses – lenses that display holographic images while still allowing you to interact with the real world – willsoon be available that can be programmed in-house to display real-time information that could be helpful to any medical situation, including the visualization of any patient’s anatomy.Med schools are piloting different versions of the technologies to explore the notion of one day replacing cadavers. Surgeons, on the other hand, see the benefits of being able to organize the real-time data being collected -- so as to not need to glance around the room at several different screens -- while overlaying different templates and targets over the subject to increase precision and accuracy.
While the market is still growing and imaginations are still running wild, a growing number of hospitals will be adopting these new systems in 2017, pushing the boundaries of surgical reality as we know it.
Where Are They Now
Some of the nation’s biggest software companies have built augmented reality lenses that are capturing the imagination of both the surgeon and medical educator. To date, a number of hospitals and medical schools have implemented pilot programs with such technology. The number is only expected to grow in the coming years. This nomination was recently expanded to include the concept of full virtual reality and cover the technology’s use in additional healthcare applications. The expanded nomination made the Top 10 list for 2019.