Augmented reality to improve accuracy in operations

Augmented reality allows additional information to be incorporated into a device, whether it is a cell phone or glasses, which is capturing reality through the camera. In this way, the user sees what is around him through the device’s viewfinder and the augmented reality provides him with valuable information about what he sees, as well as allowing him to interact. There are currently more applications of augmented reality and the field of health is one of them. Dr. Juan José Torrent, member of Top Doctors and director of the J. Torrent Institute at the Hospital El Pilar Quironsalud, is leading a project together with the International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE), to apply this technology to surgeries and thus allow greater precision. In the following interview, he explains the importance of progress in this field applied to medicine.

  • What exactly does the augmented reality project consist of?

This project consists of applying augmented reality technology as another tool to assist in surgical procedures. Our aim is for the surgeon to have, in real time, a superimposition of the imaging tests (MRI, CT…) on the patient’s organs while he is operating.

  • What are the advantages for the surgeon and the patient?

Augmented reality provides greater precision in surgery and, consequently, fewer complications and fewer re-interventions. We can see at all times where the tumors are located, in order to resect them first and foremost, but also to avoid damaging the areas close to the tumor.

  • What does augmented reality allow us to visualize and to what extent will it be in line with the patient’s “real” body?
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It allows us to visualize tumors inside the organs, since that was the initial objective. Later on, we have been able to see blood vessels and any element that can be seen in imaging tests and that is not so easy to see in surgery without the contribution of augmented reality.

  • Are the augmented reality glasses a kind of Google Glasses, which are providing information?

Yes, something similar. The glasses allow us to superimpose information within our field of vision. In this case, as mentioned above, the patient’s imaging tests.

  • What is the margin of error of augmented reality glasses?

They must have very little margin of error, since they should help us to increase surgical precision. We are always talking about less than 1mm.

  • Artificial intelligence: how is it advancing in medicine and when can these resources be applied?

Artificial intelligence is advancing very rapidly and we are also developing ideas for its application in medicine. At the surgical level, new robots will have artificial intelligence and reduce surgeon-dependent complications.