Current and emerging imaging technologies are benefiting from advances in computer technology. Real-time, detailed images are transforming diagnostics and treatments in many ways. Augmented reality (AR) vision systems show much promise to further advance imaging technology for medical applications.
Imaging Review Prior to Surgeries
Surgeons currently have a lot of anatomical image data available to them, but they still use mostly 2D displays prior to surgery. Since visual data is taken from the perspective of the imaging device, doctors have to use their skill, imagination, and experience to interpret the images. Different types of image data are displayed separately and doctors have to mentally fuse multiple images. This skill can take years of training.
With AR, surgeons have access to 3D anatomical information that provides deeper insight for diagnosis. By combining that information with artificial intelligence algorithms, a surgeon can view images needed for surgery in 3D and even be alerted to potential issues that are overlaid onto the 3D images.
AR Vision Systems While in Surgery
By implementing AR in the operating room, an echocardiogram with vital signs and data characteristics is displayed just above the surgical field. This keeps the surgeon from having to look away to multiple displays to get the information needed during the surgery. AR can provide a heads-up display that even overlays vital information directly onto the patient.
The operating room (OR) often has an entire team of doctors and nurses working on a patient. OR procedures are well planned. And surgeons stay focused on operations because of this robust staff. But time in the OR is costly and ORs are often booked solid. Hospitals schedule elective operations to help keep ORSs full and flowing. But that makes them less available for emergency procedures.
Therefore, emergency rooms and intensive care units are especially good candidates for use of AR. Procedures done outside of the OR often add more risk to procedures because of limited staff support. Doctors are able to have information about patients on their heads-up displays as they go to work. Vitals, allergies, drug interaction information, or data collected from EMTs and paramedics can be considered all while responding to the patient quickly.
Saving Times and Cost with AR Vision Systems
Able to simulate patient encounters, AR is a useful tool for training physicians. Doctors are able to learn about a wide variety of medical conditions and challenges from virtual patients instead of actual patients. This training expands educational opportunities to train physicians without having to wait for real patients to come in with specific ailments.
Aside from the cost savings with procedures themselves, costs from additional screens can be reduced. Ultrasound, endoscopy, and bronchoscopy all require their own systems and their own displays. AR can provide a shared display, eliminate the need for a dedicated monitor for each system, and improve the way data is viewed by merging it on the AR display in real time.
You may also be interested in how vision systems in life sciences are helping to explore the human genome. Read the life sciences blog at VisionOnline.org.