Place of AR/VR/MR in the medical industry

The consumer purchases of AR/VR/MR gadgets have reached a height in nearly all areas: gaming, entertainment, art; and on the other hand, these emerging technologies are making their mark in the medical industry too. It is a new promising field for exploring “Digital Realities” and is recently becoming a new home for the development of VR/AR/MR solutions.
This message was clearly stated at the Stanford’s AR and VR medical symposium. A wide array of commercial vendors presented how doctors, hospitals, and patients could benefit from virtual and augmented reality. It goes a long way starting from pre-planning a surgery to patient education and post-surgical recovery.


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Surgery planning in virtual reality

One of the most challenging moment for both: patient and a surgeon, is the operation. That’s why it has to be pre-planned very carefully. Virtual reality opens new horizons in the pre-visualization of future surgery. Operating doctors can review a real size 3D MRI and CT scans of the patient’s body. As a result, the surgeon will know what to expect during operating and plan the procedure meticulously.  They can even practice different ways of performing a particular surgery to find the best one before beginning the actual procedure.

Intraoperative use of HoloLens

Recently, our world has progressed even further, by introducing the power of Mixed Reality into the operating theatre. The HoloLens mixed reality headset is proving to be beneficial in the operating room during real-time operations as it uses surface markers to keep the mixed reality display aligned during surgery. This technology offers practical assistance in breast tumor removal. Cancer surgeon Amanda Wheeler said that it could give her a superpower of X-ray vision once it is correctly set up. The ability to control what a person sees through it with simple hand gestures is also a selling point.

Surgical Robots Making Virtual Surgeries Possible

In many cases, like when using one of Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci robot, surgery has moved a step ahead interacting straight with the physical tools and seeing the procedure directly with their eyes. A computer and robot are in between, translating hand motions to surgical instrument movements, and delivering 3D views of the procedure through custom viewing displays. Once there’s a computer system between the surgeon and the patient, it’s possible to simulate the operation theater and the surgery itself. Surgical training is another significant use case. There are several different ways VR systems can provide training tools. They can give a guidance overlay for practice and training, or let the surgeon go entirely unguided — potentially assessing their performance at the same time.

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