AR and VR: Emerging as a Surgeon's New Arm

With technological innovations set to transform clinical facilities, AR and VR capabilities are only adding to the agenda.   

FREMONT, CA: Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are making deeper inroads into the medical industry. Researchers and companies are increasingly supporting the use of VR for reducing the complexities involved with conventional surgical instruments. Sources say there are many practical and potential uses of VR in practices as one of them could be resection of a cancerous tumor. Another application of VR is that it allows doctors across the globe to participate in a surgical procedure without being physically present.    

The advances in technology and surgical instruments are also a difficult situation for the surgeons who need to adjust to the innovations. For instance, a surgeon needs to perform 10 to 20 cases to reach adequate experience in a new procedure, but the complexities involved in the current advancements mean that the number has grown to 50 to 100 cases. Besides, after the adoption of simulation and similar technologies, the airline fatalities have reduced by 45 percent. However, the medical sector has a different picture where medical errors are the third leading cause of death. One of the major issues faced by surgeons is the proper training on how to use a new device for surgical procedures. VR addresses the above situation as it is more effective, affordable, and accessible than the other traditional solutions. Not only does VR offer a simulation setup for the surgeons to practice, but it also allows them to learn from the mistakes without being concerned with the consequences of those mistakes.

AR, on the other hand, tries to overlay the real clinical environment against drawing the surgeons into a simulated clinical view. The ability of AR technology to superimpose digital information in a digital world makes it just the right fit for the medicine and surgery sector. AR can have immense potential for the surgeons needing advice in case of a complex situation. For instance, AR enables the expert or senior doctors located in some other corner of the world to see what the surgeons are doing via Telementoring. There are other useful applications of AR that can augment a surgeon’s vision that will enable the surgeons to enhance their precision and see through a patient’s body. Automatic recommendations can also be made using machine learning (ML) based on the data collected from the AR devices. For instance, recommendations can point out sensitive critical structures. Such recommendations can offer clarity to the surgeons over which course of action to choose. AR is a useful tool, even from a financial angle. For instance, the current medical procedures, such as endoscopy, ultrasound, and bronchoscopy, require new display systems. 

Moreover, the various display systems do not necessarily differ in terms of the imaging mode of display. It means that a common display system can fulfill the job for all the systems. AR fulfills the above requirement by providing a shared display for various aspects of a patient’s health metrics.  

Overall, the major challenge involved in medicine and surgeries is the long training hours for the surgeons to become proficient with a particular technology. AR and VR are the perfect technological solutions to the above issues as they can increase the transparency into the operational procedures while also enabling the surgeons with greater insights into surgeries. Simulation platform offered via VR technology is another path-breaking innovation for the surgeons enabling them to learn about new instruments even before the instruments are implemented.