Over the past decade, the use of augmented reality (AR) technology has exploded from merely showing consumer products in potential real-life settings to becoming a very practical way to inform healthcare professionals of their various options when performing complicated medical procedures. Augmented reality surgery, by recording and archiving previous procedures and then using a graphical overlay device, allows best practices to be observed and also allows access to live medical support from other medical experts

The basics of AR-assisted surgery technologies

Augmented reality technology can be utilized in any surgical situation from a general practitioner’s office to a hospitals main operating rooms. The use varies from simple detection and recognition to rendering possible surgical solutions. One of its key benefits is the ability to display the pertinent information in a heads-up display so that the surgeon can continue to use both hands during the operation. Furthermore, AR technology allows for the use of voice, gesture or eye-gaze recognition software. On the collaborative side, AR-assisted surgery tools allow the surgeon to access patient records “on the fly” as well as integrate any remote support whether the surgeon and patient are safely ensconced in an operating theater or in the field.

Benefits of AR-assisted surgery technologies

As an iterative process, augmented reality surgery are constantly expanding our knowledge of these medical processes. Every procedure – whether successful or not – adds to a growing body of medical knowledge. It is impossible for human surgeons to keep up with this knowledge growth even in relatively limited surgical areas. AR technology, however, places the information at the fingertips at the precise time that they need it. Here are a few more of the benefits of this incredible technology:

  • Vital signs can be displayed in a dashboard fashion
  • Similarly, surgical checklists can be continuously displayed in the surgeon’s filed of view and then updated with a simple eye-wink or other facial gesture
  • Healthcare experts can highlight structures or annotate a procedure to aid the surgeon themselves or to help in the education of future doctors
  • Instantaneous access to the most current patient records as well as the latest information and instructions and policies related to the procedure
  • Lowered risk of performance errors in the surgical procedure
  • Reduced risk of cross-contamination as the surgeon does not need to remove and replace sterile gloves when checking instruments
  • Lessened time “on the table” for the patient

Augmented reality surgery presents huge opportunity for the medical community. Not only does it improve patient care as a whole but also reduces costs in a number of ways – most notably in terms of operating expenses and reduced legal liabilities.