Facility trying augmented reality tech to better visualize surgeries

George Washington University Hospital is implementing what is believed to be one of the first applications of augmented reality in a surgical setting.

The organization is using technology that accurately overlays two-, three- and four-dimensional images directly onto a patient’s body. George Washington University is partnering with Novarad, which has developed its OpenSight Augmented Reality System.

The partnership between the provider and vendor aims to determine the effectiveness of using the technology for pre-operative planning and surgical strategy. Use of the technology also may enable surgeons to visually track tumors and other masses, organs, circulation tracks and more.

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Better visual information is expected to pay off with improved accuracy, and it also may lower both surgery and recovery time for patients, hospital executives believe.

The Novarad technology is powered by Microsoft’s HoloLens. OpenSight is designed to visualize 3D imaging holograms of the patient on the patient for pre-operative localization and planning of surgical options.

“OpenSight allows the surgeon to overlay the medical image on to the patient’s body, so not only do I see the patient laying on top of the table, but I can see the CT hologram,” says Babak Sarani, MD, professor of surgery and emergency medicine and director of the center for trauma and critical care at George Washington University.

The infrared camera within the headset has ranging and localizing technology, determining where objects are and creating mesh surface maps to determine 3D positioning. Placing visual tracking tags on the patient follows movement and allows for even higher accuracy. Image capabilities include virtual incisions to guide the surgeon, shunts and needle placement; finding the optimal entrance and trajectory for pedicle screws, ACL tunnels and other instrumentation; finding and resecting masses; interventional biopsies; and more.

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