How AR Will Make Surgery Safer


The ability to superimpose computer generated images into the physical world used to be limited to science fiction, but soon augmented reality, or AR, promises to change the way we interact with the physical world through wearable technology. So, what does this mean for the medical industry?

Massive changes are already underway in surgical suites as AR has begun rolling out for controlled tests. Developers are working to utilize wearables, like Google Glass and the Microsoft HoloLens, to minimize the risks associated with going under the knife. Here’s a few ways AR will be changing operating rooms in the future. 

Immersive Training

Universities and medical centers are already utilizing holographic simulations to train students. Rather than using dozens of costly mannequins which limit what what is done in training sessions, AR can provide limitless simulations from one headset. For surgeons, AR’s portability and ultra-realistic graphics will help guide them through a surgery before ever stepping into the operating room. With this new way to practice, surgeons and residents can also feel more confident during bedside procedures where the environment is less controlled.  

Improved Accuracy

The ability to manipulate computer generated images will give users the ability to enlarge and explore areas of the body that are typically difficult to get to. Preliminary developments for the use of AR in risky operations, such as spinal surgery, are currently underway to decrease the surgeons dependence on MRI and CT images. Instead, a virtual reconstruction of the patient’s anatomy can be overlayed on the exposure site.

With an enhance view of the body, doctors can work more accurately, especially when it comes to working with small blood vessels during reconstructive surgery.

Screenless Operating Rooms

Arguably the most important advancement AR will provide is eliminating screens from the operating room. Surgeons rely on monitor displays to read patient vitals, look at endoscopic camera feeds and read EKGs. Headsets and glasses equipped with AR technology will minimize the time surgeons spend looking away from the procedure they are performing and, unlike monitors, images will be displayed in 3D for a more accurate view of structures .

While augmented reality assisted surgeries aren’t common yet, there is no doubt that AR and wearable technology will have a heavy presence in the hospitals of the future. Companies like MedCognition are already working to make AR equipment a reality. Their technology will train the next generation of medical professionals and help make safer surgeries and improved patient care a reality. Everyone from relationship coaches to therapist are using augment reality technology.