After a traumatic injury, surgeons may need to repair damage using flaps of tissue taken from elsewhere in the body. One of the challenges with this approach is that the blood vessels of the “new” tissue must be connected with those at the injury site. At the moment, surgeons use a handheld ultrasound scanner that can detect blood pulsing under the skin, to approximate where blood vessels are.
Researchers at Imperial College London have now developed an augmented reality system, based on the Micosoft HoloLens, that allows surgeons to see the positions of key blood vessels and bones in a CT image overlay on a patient during surgery. The technology effectively allows a surgeon to “see through” the patient. The developers hope that the new capability will help surgeons to complete tricky procedures, such as doing arterial anastomoses during reconstructive surgeries.
“Augmented reality offers a new way to find these blood vessels under the skin accurately and quickly by overlaying scan images onto the patient during the operation,” explains Phillip Pratt, a researcher at Imperial College London.
The augmented reality system consists of a headset that overlays computer-generated ‘holograms’ onto what the wearer sees. In this case, the surgeons could view an overlay of a patient’s CT scan on their lower limb, allowing them to visualize the blood vessels. The technique differs from a similar approach recently reported by Medgadget, in that the overlay is only visible through the headset, rather than on a large-scale projection over the tissue.
So far, the team has trialed the technology during surgeries for a small number of patients, with promising results. “Through this initial series of patient cases we have shown that the technology is practical, and that it can provide a benefit to the surgical team,” said Pratt. “With the HoloLens, you look at the leg and essentially see inside of it. You see the bones, the course of the blood vessels, and can identify exactly where the targets are located.”
Study in European Radiology Experimental: Through the HoloLens™ looking glass: augmented reality for extremity reconstruction surgery using 3D vascular models with perforating vessels…
Via: Imperial College London…
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