Since the dawn of augmented reality, medicine was always promoted as a one of the big beneficiaries of future AR applications, many publications writing about how AR could be a major milestone in the evolution of modern medicine, especially augmented reality surgery. Everything was mostly theoretical… until now.
A German institute for medical imaging computing has finally created an augmented reality app that could support surgeons and help reduce the rate of complications during operations. Tested successfully for the first time just a week ago, the system proved extremely useful during a live operation.
What the app actually does is to reconstruct the locations of blood vessels in the liver for each patient and digitally superimpose them over the real live stream from the operation theatre. In this way the surgeons could precisely plan how and where to use their scalpel avoiding a hemorrhage and further complications. The precision of this system has to take into consideration the small differences between various people. Although the organs are quite similar in terms of structure and functionality, things like size, shape or colour could differ from a person to another. In order to achieve this accuracy the AR app has used 3D X-ray images taken with established software used already on thousands of patients.
Although the tablet AR app is only particular useful for liver tumour removal for now, the company plans to improve it for operations to other organs. Huge amounts of information that need to be fed to the app and thousands of tests are only a few of the things needed before this app will become a common sight in hospitals. Convincing the doctors that the app works and that the risk is minimised compared to traditional methods might be another difficult venture that could affect its mass medical adoption. The good news however, is that the first step has already been made. Now it is only a matter of time and resources.
Would you trust such an AR app when it comes to your operation? What other AR apps do you see becoming common in medical centres in the near future?