Augmented Reality Improves Brain Surgery

Chinese researchers have successfully used Microsoft Hololens to improve the accuracy of brain surgery twofold. The data was published in Journal of Neurosurgery on October 16th.

A team led by Dr Ya Li, PHD from Xuanwu Hospital Beijing has successfully performed a neurosurgical procedure called external ventricular drain insertion in half the usual amount of attempts. Neurosurgeons adorned the Hololens headset in order to visualize 3D CT Scans directly over-top of the exact location they portray.

This new procedure allows surgeons at Xuanqua to conduct drain insertion in half the usual amount of attempts. Furthermore, this innovative strategy of 3D visualization significantly decreases the chances of deviation from ideal catheter placement.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first positive experience with the use of such a new state-of-art technique to assist neurosurgeons in bedside external ventricular drain insertion. … In addition to the function of navigation, the application of this technique would change the neurosurgical way of ‘seeing is believing,’ making the important structures visible around the lesion,” said co-author Dr. Ning Wang in a statement. “Therefore, this will make surgery more minimally invasive and safe.”

Visualization and presurgical planning on CT scans, 3D virtual models, and augmented reality holograms

Unfortunately the actual conversion of 3D CT scans takes a long time.40.2 minutes to be exact. In an emergency situation this could be mean the difference between life and death. However, the authors of the study hypothesize that the lengthy buffering duration will decrease with the introduction of algorithmic CT scan conversion. Perhaps with the addition of machine learning the technology could begin to see mass adoption throughout hospitals around the world.

AR is one of many new technologies being applied to the medical sector. The surgical robot Davinci is a good example of this. Davinci is a more accurate mechanical “extension” of the surgeons arm that is currently being used for more delicate surgeries.

3D bio-printers are also covering a lot of ground recently, including the ability to print tendons, ligaments and organs that could replace the more dangerous method of extraction and transcription of tissue from the patients body.





Augmented reality heightens accuracy of brain procedure



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