Augmented reality (AR) has proven to be applicable to a variety of industries and use cases over the years. What started as a military technology two decades ago has been leveraged in everything from video games to orthopedic surgeries.
The technology differs from virtual reality in that it uses the real-life physical space you are in and adds a 3-dimensional layer of tech-enabled visualization on top of it. Virtual reality, on the other hand, is a completely virtual space with a fake environment.
AR provides endless opportunities for orthopedic surgeons in the education space, pre-operative planning, live surgery and many other scenarios.
“It gives us, essentially, x-ray vision. It’s like being one of those superheroes in cartoons of old,” said Stefano Bini, M.D., University of California San Francisco. “One of the interesting things about this technology is that because it is visual, it’s actually very readily accessed.”
With the evolution of orthopedic technology from x-rays to navigation and robotics to 3D modeling, a surgeon’s ability to visualize the problem and find the right solution has benefited from incremental improvements over previous technologies.
“[With AR] you can now know exactly what the hip replacement needs to look like before you even start the procedure,” said Jonathan M. Vigdorchik, M.D., Hospital for Special Surgery. “It’s not only helpful for the complex cases, it’s also helpful for the routine cases in terms of ease of use and efficiency.”
While AR gives surgeons a powerful tool for real time assessment and navigation, it also is a time-saver and reduces variability, taking out a lot of the guesswork and exploration during a live surgery.
Image Credit: Pixee Medical