Augmented Reality in Medicine

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Monday, January 4th, 2016
Choi Jae-hoon

Augmented reality is a modern, technological advancement that displays a computer-generated view of reality in lieu of the user’s view of the world, thus allowing its users to be completely immersed. Currently, it is being used in the field of entertainment, through videogames and headsets, like Google Glass. However, it is receiving a lot of attraction from other areas, especially in the medical field.

This fall, during the annual CURAC (Computer- und Roboterassistierte Chirurgie) meeting in Germany, professors and doctors presented keynote speeches on the subject of clinical challenges and ways to approach these challenges using modern-day technology, especially through augmented reality software.

One of the main topics that they focused on was liver surgery, and ways to implement the augmented reality system into the real world. Through their research and development, Dr. Andrea Schenk, Dr. Oldhafer, and their team came up with the Liver Explorer, which is an augmented reality system that only uses the camera and the display of a tablet-PC in order to superimpose a model of a liver, which is then used to gather information and plan out how to perform the surgery before actually performing it.

In addition to using augmented reality in liver surgery, Stefanie Speidel, and Thomas Klenzner came up with other applications that should be considered. Some examples include using augmented reality and MRI visualization systems for breast surgery planning, augmented reality visualization for optical coherence tomography, and much more. The various topics that Stefanie Speidel and Thomas Klenzer tackled emphasize the importance of these technologies.

Finally, Thomas Wittenberg introduced the 3DInMed, which is a project to implement augmented reality technology and solutions into the ARRISCOPE, which is a digital operating microscope from ARRI that is used in surgical microscopy. Not only that, but 3DInMed also hopes to implement augmented reality technology into the company, Schölly, which builds digital endoscopes, used to examine a person’s digestive tract.

In all, these sessions and these programs show a promising future in the medical field, and sheds a positive light on the barriers that augmented reality technology can overcome. Aside from this, we may be able to apply these augmented reality programs into the educational system for trainees, since it may allow these students to tackle realistic situations. It would be especially helpful to medical students attempting to master the art of surgery. In addition to that, professors and advisers may be able to directly assist these students and provide them with immediate feedback when necessary.

By addressing these topics using these programs, scientists and doctors may be able to implement these technologies to resolve the health issues in our community. With the continuous development of these 3D programs and software, there may in fact be a major breakthrough in the medical field, thus saving the lives of countless people by reducing medical accidents. However, only time will tell when the next major augmented reality development and applications to other fields will come.