May 25, 2019 | Updated: 10:06 PM EDT

AR on the Surgical Playing Field

Mar 17, 2019 10:23 AM EDT

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Augmented reality-assisted surgery in the operating room
(Photo : Image by Pete Linforth from Flickr)

With all augmented reality gadgets and applications within essentially everyone's reach, gaming is at a very different level today.  However, as the medical field ups its game as well, AR no longer ONLY guarantees you a great time on your PlayStation or even on your mobile phone, but this also outspreads the forte of a very capable team in the operating room to a wider range.

Professors from the University of Maryland, Sarah Murthi, MD and Amitabh Varshney have pointed out that while for the past 70 years, imaging in the medical world has evolved, it still is on a 2D canvas.  And while CT scans, angiograms, and x-rays are indeed very helpful to both the doctor and the patient, putting all these together to form a coherent representation of the patient and his/her needs requires special skill and years of its mastery.  From simulations for medical students to actual practice, augmented reality systems come in handy when it comes to assessments and carrying out the surgical procedure.  In addition to the 2D images from the traditional imaging devices, AR can provide a 3D image of the patient's organs.  This will aid doctors in making the decision when it comes to procedural approach and surgical access point.

The Augmented Reality Integrated Simulation Education Project lets medical students work on actual simulation of high risk situations and procedures in a low risk setting.  With the ARISE Project, they are given the chance to interact with the patient that is "brought to life" by AR.  As simulations used to be brought to life by the imagination of the medical student, AR now does this and takes out the anxiety from the student who is now more focused on executing the procedure.  They are no longer concerned with imagining that the patient has blue skin or is irregularly thin because of certain medical conditions.  They are now exposed to a more realistic incident making them more confident when they proceed to the actual medical set.

After medical school is medical practice, and AR does not shy away from helping here too.  Doctors, learned surgeons, can use AR in the operating room with an open patient on the table.  While the surgeon does his/her thing, a 3D image, details of the organs involved, or stats of the patient can appear "above" the patient's organs.  This will cut the surgeon's time looking at multiple screens and combining these data or acquiring a current image of the patient's body while operating.

And as we can conclude, only good can come from augmented reality, be it playing games in our own homes or answering life and death calls in the operating rooms of surgeons, who utilize AR as more than just a gaming device.

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