IT matters: Virtual and augmented reality in medicine

May 15, 2017
From the May 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Minimally invasive augmented Procedures
The modern era of health care delivery is increasingly focused on development and refinement of minimally invasive procedures to decrease patient recovery times and peri-procedural morbidity. Early adoption of AR navigational systems by surgical specialties has enabled improved interventions with smaller incisions. In laparoscopy, for example, AR navigational systems can be used to project computer-generated images on the patient to enhance the intra-operative perspective. Similar applications have also been developed for abdominal, neurosurgical, facial and orthopedic procedures.

The democratization of AR with consumer grade OHMD systems will facilitate the adoption of this technology beyond operating rooms and interventional suites. By combining three-dimensional holograms derived from a patient’s diagnostic imaging with advanced co-registration technology, there is tremendous potential to use diagnostic imaging to augment clinic or bedside procedures. These solutions will result in improved technical success rates while decreasing procedure times and complication rates for complex as well as routine procedures.

Imaging in 3-D
From ultrasound to CT or MRI, perception of three-dimensional relationships from two-dimensional images remains an ever-present challenge in diagnostic imaging. VR and AR devices can help to address this by displaying these data as 3-D projections. This allows physicians to approach imaging in an intuitive manner as if they were looking at a virtual patient. For surgeons, the perspective can be manipulated to simulate what is seen intra-operatively.

Recent strong interest in 3-D printing has reaffirmed the value of pre-procedural planning. With the use of VR and AR devices, such planning can be performed in a faster, more cost-effective manner while also providing a more dynamic representation of spatial relationships and detail. This dynamic imaging would not be constrained to static overlays, but could include streaming, functional information such as cardiac or brain blood flow data or articular motion of the knee joint. Additionally, through the use of teleconferencing, this technology can facilitate virtual consultations, allowing a diagnostician to be virtually ”present” during key portions of a surgical procedure.

About the authors: Alaa Beydoun is an interventional radiology-bound radiology resident at the University of Maryland Medical Center and cofounder of the departmental Innovation Committee. Vikash Gupta is a radiology resident at the University of Maryland Medical Center and has a lifelong interest in advancing health care through technology. Eliot Siegel is a professor and vice chair of research information systems for the University of Maryland Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine.

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