After innumerable tests, most of which between the walls of the University, finally was successfully made the first surgery with the help of augmented reality.

A group of Polish cardiac surgeons, all from the Institute of Cardiology in Warsaw, successfully used an augmented reality headset to restore the blood flow in the blocked artery of a 49yo patient. The device, an headset made from a Google Glass, displayed data about the patient in front of the doctors’ eyes, among which also the tomographic images of the arteries, that drove the operation to success.

One of the main advantages of the use of devices as Google Glass in surgery is that they leave the hands free, so the doctor can operate with more autonomy. While he does so, information and images are displayed on the side of his field of view, on the glasses’ lenses, superimposed to reality: in the Warsaw’s case in front of the surgeons’ eyes were showed the 3D reconstruction of the heart.

This kind of operation is generally pretty difficult to perform, but thanks to this device the doctors were able to find the blocked artery easily and to insert in the heart also two stents: this is the demonstration that the new technologies, augmented reality in primis, can be very useful in a delicate and important field as the medical one.

Maksymilian Opolski, author of a paper on the operation in the Journal of Cardiology, said: “This case demonstrates the novel application of wearable devices for display of data sets in the catheterisation lab that can be used for better planning and guidance of interventional procedures. It also provides proof of concept that wearable devices can improve operator comfort and procedure efficiency in interventional cardiology.”

Augmented reality is always more often at the service of medicine and health: we saw projects using the HoloLens headset in USA Universities for studying medicine and anatomy or how the Smart Specs will help legally blind perceiving reality around them; now it seems that we have to give a big welcome to augmented reality in the field of surgery.

Scientific collaborators at Purdue University and the Indiana University School of Medicine have been working together to create a new technology that could help surgeons on battle fields or in isolated areas of the planet operating patients even not being specialists in a certain operation thanks to the help of other medics. Until this moment it was already operative a system with the same aim, but unluckily it had some working problem: in fact, there was a video from the surgeon’s point of view, but the notes were on another display; as you can imagine this was giving some issues since the surgeon had to continuously glance back and forth. Today, instead, with the new STAR (System for Telementoring with Augmented Reality) the situation is decisively better: thanks to augmented reality the specialists’ suggestions will be projected directly on the surgeon’s field of view, making operations safer and faster. Essentially a a transparent display is positioned over the working field, so the surgeon and the specialist have the same view and the first one can read and see the useful information directly on that.

For now the STAR system, developed with the help of Pentagon, has been only tested in laboratories simulating the hospital ambient, but probably it will be soon in full use.

Watch an animation explaining how STAR works: