Augmented reality in spine surgery is taking off, and its growth could be exponential in the near future. With more and more places adopting the technology, many surgeons have a positive outlook for the technology. It's the first AR system driven by artificial intelligence, using machine-learning-based guidance and automated surgical planning. In December, Royal Philips expanded its ClarifyEye AR spine system in Spain and Oman. In February, Neo Medical raised $20.6 million in funding, which will support the product's U.S. launch.
Augmented reality (AR) isn't just for Pokémon Go and Snapchat masks, the technology will can have practical applications in areas like medicine, too. At least that's the promise of the new Scopis Holographic Navigation Platform, which is designed to be used with the Microsoft HoloLens to help doctors perform spinal surgery. The company claims that its system can use 3D tracking with the HoloLens to help accurately find spinal screw positions faster during surgery. The system also allows the medical team to place virtual monitors above the surgery space, giving the surgeon a hands-free way to refer to charts and images while operating. Scopis also employs the HoloLens' familiar finger gestures (which look like you're pinching the air) to allow the surgeon to control the AR content.
Neurosurgeon Joshua Bederson recently used augmented-reality technology to remove a three-centimeter-wide brain tumor in a 76-year-old man's parietal lobe, a part of the brain that handles such information as touch and spatial orientation. Combining software that builds 3-D models of the head and brain, a tracking camera that matches the patient's facial features to those on the model and a powerful surgical microscope, Dr. Bederson was able to project a virtual image of the tumor and nearby structures directly onto the microscope's field of view. Before using augmented reality, Dr. Bederson could see only the structures directly in front of him through the microscope. Now, using this technology, he can see farther--below the surface of the brain where his tools are. Getting the necessary information during a surgery used to be a slower, more tedious task with many steps.
Keilan, a 12-year old boy with scoliosis, a severe curvature of the spine, waited 47 weeks before being admitted to hospital for surgery. Keilan's story is revealed in Hospital, the award-winning BBC Two series, which was filmed in January and February at Nottingham University Hospitals - one of the country's biggest and busiest trusts. It is the story of the health service at an unprecedented time in its 70-year history. Keilan's operation, aimed at correcting and straightening his spine, had been scheduled for the middle of the winter crisis when NHS England advised every hospital to suspend all routine operations. Although paediatrics is usually protected from cancellations, the high number of patients being treated at the Queen's Medical Centre, where Keilan was taken for surgery, meant his operation had twice been put back.