World-first Microsoft HoloLens augmented-reality discectomy takes place in USA

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A patient undergoes an automated percutaneous lumbar discectomy while Novarad’s OpenSight augmented reality technology assists the operating surgeon, Wendell Gibby.

Novarad’s OpenSight augmented reality system has been used in what the company believes may be the first surgical use of Microsoft’s HoloLens. An automated percutaneous lumbar discectomy was performed by Wendell Gibby, neuroradiologist and chief executive officer of Novarad.

“This is very new stuff. It is the first procedure I am aware of that has done this in the world. People have performed some work with 3D models and simulations,” Gibby says. “We had some papers recently at the American Society of Neuroradiology [annual meeting] about this, but it is the first time we have tried it on a patient.”

Novarad created OpenSight to render patient studies into 3D and present them in an interactive manner accurately overlaid directly onto the patient’s body. This uses technologies including 3D imaging, advanced segmentation and rendering, registration, motion correction, virtual tools and 3D annotation technologies. This operation was performed using fluoroscopic guidance and was assisted by the use of OpenSight.

The OpenSight software has proven beneficial in overcoming certain obstacles with surgical operations, and has the potential to improve accuracy, increase operational efficiency and to decrease mistakes in surgeries. According to Gibby, it can be difficult to find things surgically, and the ability to see three dimensionally eliminates much of the challenge.

Using the HoloLens technology, OpenSight is designed to register medical imaging studies such as magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography scans over the patient in real time, enabling the wearer to both see the patient and see through the patient with dynamic holograms of their internal anatomy.

“We are using cutting-edge augmented reality to display a 3D version of a patient’s anatomy on the actual patient,” says Steve Cvetko, director of Research and Development at Novarad. “It offers a true, life-size rendering with exact alignment and orientation, which is valuable for medical education, research and, of course, surgery.”

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