Augmented Reality in Surgery

The race for augmented reality in medicine has begun. Companies and start-ups tirelessly research and develop to make the first real applications of augmented reality in surgery a reality. We have also been running in this race together with the Leipzig University Hospital for almost 1.5 years and have already been able to bring various developments into use. What exactly have we been able to get off the ground so far?

Navigation in the brain - or - where in the MRI image is the tip of the instrument currently located?

Navigation in the brain is currently the first and only navigation option in the OR. While conventional devices rely on large tripods, cameras and reference points on the operating table to calculate the instrument's position in the patient using image recognition, we are trying to compress the same functionality in the "Hololens 2" AR glasses. Instead of looking at the screen of the device, repeatedly aligning the instrument in the camera's field of view and then recognizing the position on the screen, with AR the corresponding MRI or CT images should simply be displayed next to the patient and appear exactly when when the surgeon needs them. These functions are no longer a vision, but have already been implemented by us to a large extent and are currently being tested for use in the OR.

In connection with this, we are also working in another area of ​​neurosurgery and are trying to develop a sign function on the brain - why?

In the case of certain tumors in the brain near the speech center, an awake operation can be scheduled to remove them. A wake operation, therefore, in order to be able to localize the important language functions near the tumor and thus protect them. The brain is stimulated with electricity in the areas around the tumor and the patient's ability to speak is tested. If language restrictions (word-finding disorders, etc.) become audible, the surgeon knows that the area just stimulated is important for the ability to speak. This is where the problem comes in - in order to mark this area, the position must now be recorded by hand and e.g. marked on the brain with a piece of sterile paper. As the operation progresses, these pieces of paper can slip and have to be repositioned, which is time-consuming. In order to overcome this hurdle, augmented reality is to be used for marking in the future - by simply digitally "drawing" the places on the brain. Together with the doctors and researchers of the university hospital, we are working on solutions like these to improve the work of the doctors and the experience of the patients through augmented reality.

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