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Role of Augmented Reality in Healthcare & Medicine

Transforming the future of healthcare

Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the latest trends, which is changing the way industries function and thrive across the globe. The same goes for healthcare, too, which is also one of the vital foundations of our society. With the rising population, the challenge is to keep up with increasing demand and expectations.

(Source: medium.com)

The capability of Augmented Reality to impeccably blend the real world with digital information technology is trailblazing. This is one of the biggest reasons the world is not only talking but rather imbibing AR as much as possible. From what we can foresee, AR would not only be central to innovation but enhance the medical world too. The initial implementations have already carved a niche for itself. It is just a matter of a few years, and the entire world of medicine will look different. This latest technology is leading us towards efficiency and safety in medicine and healthcare.

There has been a massive buzz regarding this technology, but the truth is that it has been around for a while. In the year 1965, the first virtual system in medicine was presented by Robert Mann, which was utilised to decide what the best process for an orthopaedic disease would be. Simultaneously, it was used to enable a new training atmosphere for orthopaedic residents.

Although the development of AR had already started by the year 1960, the term Augmented Reality got established in 1990. This was a new phase that marked the arrival of spatial computing in the clinical setting. In the present times, AR provides amplified information for the surgeon and physician in the course of interventional procedures such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computerized Tomography (CT).

This technology is of great value for both teachers and students in the educational realm. Its main applications in medical education comprise of 4D and 3D visualizations of intricate structures in anatomy, time dimensions in physiology, and the representation of mechanisms in space. Researchers worldwide are working closely with AR technology companies to create a better world for us.

  • Bringing Augmented Reality to Brain Surgery

    The removal of a brain tumour is one of the toughest surgeries, but thanks to AR, it is soon going to be easier. Along with the operating, one can view the image of the inside of the patient’s head as well.

    The video above showcases the usage of AR for craniotomy planning on the bone, dura, skin, and also on the cortex by a surgeon.

    Munich-based Brainlab and U.S.-based Magic Leap are collaborating to include this ingenious dimension to medical imaging and surgical process. This collaboration would combine Magic Leap's Augmented Reality technology with Brainlab's data management, visualization, pre-processing data software, and cloud computing.

    The first release of the product would facilitate simulation and surgical planning in an office setting and later consist of a next-generation mix of physical and virtual worlds for the radiology suite, radiotherapy treatment room, intensive care unit, etc.

  • Beneath the Patients' Skin

    Students at the University of Alberta (Canada), Michael Fiest, and Ian Watts created an AR-based system called ProjectDR.

    It facilitates medical images such as MRI scans, and CT scans straight away on a patient’s body. Due to the custom created software by Ian Watts, the image can move as the patient moves. It also provides a complete view of the patient's internal anatomy to the surgeon.

    The video shared above is a depiction of how ProjectDR would function. It can be used in laparoscopic surgery, rehabilitation, physiotherapy, surgical planning, and also in education.

    It can also depict segmented images and implies that it would focus and showcase what a clinician needs to see and leave out other distractions.

  • Reconnecting Blood Vessels & an Inside View of the Tissues

    Researchers at Imperial College London at St. Mary's Hospital have presented how Microsoft HoloLens headsets and Mixed Reality can be used while a patient is undergoing a reconstructive lower limb surgery. This technology can help physicians trace and reconnect the main blood vessels during reconstructive surgery.

    One of the first groups in the world who are fruitfully using the HoloLens in the operating theatre is Dr. Philip Pratt (a Research fellow in the Department of Surgery & Cancer) and his team.

    Surgeons can overlap scan images onto the patient during the operation through the use of HoloLens. They can easily detect the targeted area; view the course of the blood vessels and the bones. This technology decreases the margin of human error and the time spent by a patient being under anaesthesia.

    According to a report by the surgical team of Imperial College London, they have reported success in all the first five cases with human patients ranging from an 85-year-old woman with a compound fractured ankle and a 41-year-old man who sustained leg injuries.

    The surgeons have reported the HoloLens as a potent tool that is superior to the use of ultrasound to locate blood vessels. It is quite clear that AR has a tremendous scope and will come up with a lot more significant changes in imminent years. As we keep discovering its potential, it would play a vital role in helping control, prevent, and cure millions of people.

Keyur Bhalavat Founder and Director

A young entrepreneur full of intellectual energy and concern that transform into an untiring center of knowledge seeking, unafraid of exploring new and fresh ideas however challenging they may happen to be in the field of technology.