Innovation That Matters

The xvision system allows surgeons to keep their eyes on the patients for the entire surgery | Photo source Augmedics

AR tool used to aid spinal surgeons

Health & Wellbeing

An AR system has been approved for use in spinal surgery, allowing surgeons to visualise the spinal anatomy of the patient in 3D

Spotted: Augmented reality’s (AR) ability to integrate digital information into a real-world environment makes it perfect for use in medicine. AR is already allowing doctors to take part in remote education and surgery planning. Now, an AR system has been approved for use in spinal surgery. Augmedic’s xvision Spine System is being used to aid spinal surgeons in accurately guiding instruments and implants. 

The xvision system has been approved for use in surgery by the US Food and Drug Administration and has already been used in a spinal fusion surgery performed at Johns Hopkins University. The guidance system allows surgeons to visualise the 3D spinal anatomy of the patient “as if they had X-ray vision”. This, in turn, allows the surgeon to more accurately guide instruments and implants.

The xvision consists of a transparent near-eye-display headset and a traditional surgical navigation system. The system determines the position of surgical tools in real-time and superimposes a virtual trajectory for the procedure onto the patient’s CT data. This navigation data is then projected onto the surgeon’s retina using the headset. This enables the surgeon to look at both the patient and the navigation data without needing to turn away to refer to a remote screen during the procedure.

Nissan Elimelech, founder and CEO of Augmedics, says that this is just the beginning of a revolutionary change in the way surgery is performed, adding that AR will give surgeons, “more control, giving them the information they need, directly within their working field of sight, to instil technological confidence in the surgical workflow, and to help surgeons perform as safely and effectively as possible. We expect xvision will dramatically improve accuracy, safety, operating efficiencies and patient outcomes in an environment that increasingly can tolerate nothing less.”

While AR has seen a lot of use in gaming, in the future it may be more common in education and medicine. We have already a growing number of innovations in this space, including an AR tool that helps to locate veins for inserting IVs and the use of AR to design better operating theatres.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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