The surgical process is a specialised type of treatment that benefits from augmentation and virtualisation technologies in many ways that are very different from the rest of healthcare provision. Surgical procedures to fix issues inside the body, transplant tissues, or take grafts, are always going to be extraordinarily time constrained and demanding of both immense precision and up-to-the-minute information on patient health, stability, and the extent of progression of any conditions the patient suffers from.
This very compacted form of healthcare, where life or death situations are the daily norm, demands a very different approach to both patient care, and practitioner abilities than most treatment regimens, where patient treatment may be stretched over weeks, months, or years. A highly stressful environment, every augmentation or virtualisation method introduced, must reduce the stress, never compound it. The gains must be substantial and usually have to be immediately obvious as well.
Augmenting the Operating Room
The simplest method of augmenting the surgical process, is to augment the facilities of the specially designed rooms where most surgery is expected to take place. Upgrading the equipment to be found in these facilities, offers both the patient and the surgeon the very best chance of surgery with minimum mistakes, and the range of possible augmentation technology for this situation is vast indeed.
Plug-and-Play Medical Interlink
For the last 25-30 years, physicians and engineers around the world have been envisaging an interconnected medical network, of which every device is a part. That is what the standards of DICOM and PACS work towards. But what about going further? Not just making the data compatible, but the devices themselves?
Augmenting the Surgeon
Rather than augment the operating room itself, another option is to augment the surgeon's capabilities directly. This can be via equipment found in the operating room, that the surgeon then dons or interfaces with. Alternatively, it may be actual physical upgrades to the surgeon, or equipment they usually have on their person, to assist in surgery in less than optimum conditions – such as out in the field.
Da Vinci gains Gaze Assist
A short supplimental artcle concerning the Da-Vinci surgical system, and an incremental improvement to it.
Podcast: Catherine Mohr: Surgery's past, present and robotic future
This podcast comes from TED 2009, where Catherine Mohr, a surgeon, engineer, and inventor of the LapCap, spoke at length about the history and future of surgery. She discusses where new technology is taking all of medicine, with special focus to Da Vinci's robotic surgery technology.
The da Vinci System is called "da Vinci" because Leonardo da Vinci invented the first robot Leonardo also used unparalleled anatomical accuracy and three-dimensional details to bring his masterpieces to life; thus the robot was named after him. First cleared by the American FDA in 2000, the DaVinci surgical robot is designed to enable minimally invasive, complex surgery.
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Augmented Surgical Diagnosis
As a surgical procedure is so compacted both in terms of time, and in terms of manoeuvring room, a correct diagnosis is more critical here than in any other area of healthcare. Elsewhere, mistakes can be rectified later. In a surgical operation, a mistake of diagnosis can mean death or permanent injury for the patient. Whilst methods of instant diagnosis of changing conditions right there in the operating room are few, it is one area where augmentation technologies can immediately be of benefit, offering a plethora of possible ways to diagnose ailments in real-time, and supply that data to the surgeon right there on the table.
Fast Adaptive Optics for 3D Medical Imaging
One of the greatest problems with tomography based medical scanners, is what happens when the patient moves (breathes, or pumps blood). The distortion that occurs in each slice has long been correctable, but takes a long time to correct. With near-instant correction now possible, real-time medical scanning is starting to look like a true possibility.
Speedy 3D X-rays in the operating room
ORBIT, a new motorised arm X-ray system is being trialled at a surgical unit in Germany, where it is successfully allowing surgery to continue uninterrupted whilst millimetre-precise 3D X-rays are taken of the surgical site, as often as the surgeon requires.
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In the old days, if you had a patient with special surgical needs, you would have to fly a surgeon in specially, and schedule a time for the operation to fit round their needs – a long, and frequently costly process. With augmentation technologies this no-longer has to be the case for many surgeries, and the surgeon can be on one side of the world, the patient on the other, and still the operation goes ahead.
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We are at the limits of human dexterity. But who says a surgeon's skill should be lost if their hands have started to shake with age, or if an operation is just too complex for human hands? Augmented Reality is here to help.
Autonomous Shrapnel Remover
We are still a long way from an autonomous robot surgeon in general surgery, but perhaps not as far removed as it was believed. Bioengineers at Duke University have developed a laboratory robot that can successfully locate tiny pieces of metal within flesh and guide a needle to its exact location, without any human assistance.
Intelligent, Sensitive Surgical Drill
Boring small holes in the head is a common occurrence for surgeons working on delicate surgical procedures for the senses. Dentists drilling teeth, surgeons drilling into the nose, ear, or drilling holes into the head. Delicate, tiny movements where one slip could slam the drill into soft tissue, rending arteries rearing ligaments, driving shards of bone into the brain.
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Augmenting Patient Data
The more information a surgeon has about a patient prior to the start of surgery, the easier it will be for them to determine how to proceed. VR technologies come into their own here, to facilitate an exploratory view of the patient's body or just of the surgical site, for the surgeon to dissect over and over, before even meeting the patient themselves. Likewise VR data overlaid on the physical can be of immense benefit, such as telling the surgeon where, in that mass of pooling blood, the actual arteries are positioned, overlaying the data on their senses in a heads-up display.
Improving Robotic Surgery by integrating Augmented Reality Elements
Robotic surgical procedures are carried out with the aid of a camera system attached alongside the tools on the robotic arm that is inserted into the body of a patient. A surgeon carries out the operation by seeing through the camera's eye. As such, augmented reality systems have always seemed a good fit to overlay a virtual representation of the patient's innards, along with the full size and shape of the target area, on the display screen. However, the difficulty of AR object recognition inside the body has always proven too much of a hurdle. Until now.
Simplicity Versus Realism in Medical VR
We are so caught up in our desire for ever greater realism and ever greater accuracy when using VR and modelling tools to render the human body for diagnosis in whole or in part, that we often forget the benefits of simplicity. HemoVis, a medical VR tool for assessing weak points in the coronary system, achieves far better results with a 2D system than 3D with all the bells and whistles used more commonly in diagnosis.
Using 3D Printers to create Surgical Simulators
Whilst medical VR systems do their best to recreate the attributes of physical patient flesh for surgeons to practice on, they are still a long way from perfect. One team tries a new approach to help neurosurgeons with surgical simulators: 3D printing relatively cheap, throwaway physical models designed to replicate the characteristics of every part of the skull and brain.
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The Patient Experience
A key part of augmented surgical systems, probably the most central key part, is how they impact on the patients themselves. Swifter, more accurate and less invasive surgeries are but one part. What do these technologies mean for both waiting lists and patient recovery time?
Robotic maneuvers render shorter scar, recovery time after heart surgery
Industry news, originally posted 10-08-2004, deemed too important to allow to fade. WESTON -- Doug Sherman had coronary bypass surgery on a Friday and was home by Monday. A week later, he went back to work as an optician in Boca Raton. This unheard-of recovery time is all thanks to AR (Augmented Reality) surgery.