Surgery meets the metaverse

What is the metaverse? In the 90s, it was a term familiar only to science fiction fans but, citing Bob Dylan, the times they are a-changing. Nowadays, metaverse is a buzzword and is entering the operating theatre strongly.

Metaverse is now a buzzword, but during the 90s, only science fiction fans were familiar with this term. At its origin, the word metaverse indicated a hypothetical universal and immersive virtual world based on the internet and facilitated by virtual and mixed reality. What about now? The term metaverse is mostly applied in the gaming and social media industry, but it’s being more and more used also in the healthcare sector. Will follow three examples of products and companies that match surgery and the metaverse.

The medical software company eXeX, funded by Dr. Robert Masson, a neurosurgeon specialised in minimally invasive spine surgeries, developed HoloOPS. This is a suite of software applications which employs mixed reality and machine learning to support not only the main surgeon but the whole operating room team, including the scrub technicians and the nurses. This system allows for the planning and coordination of surgery, improving efficiency and reducing distractions. Dr. Masson himself performed the first reconstructive surgery of any kind employing this system, and the company claims that HoloOPS has already been implemented in over 1000 procedures by leading surgical teams. This technology could, for the first time, revolutionise the operating environment setup, which hasn’t changed much in the last century.

Another example is GigXR, an immersive learning platform which can deliver a catalogue of mixed-reality applications for the training of healthcare professionals. This library provides a 360-degree in-depth look at how pathologies and injuries manifest in diagnostic imaging to better prepare medical and nursing students and professionals. This advancement opens up to a whole new way of learning and training for healthcare students and professionals. Such a technology could also help bring holograms into the operating room, giving surgeons a lot more than an image shown on a computer screen or a picture taped to a light. Currently, GigXR created holographic clinical simulations with institutions such as the University of Cambridge, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and the University of Michigan.

A third case is represented by Augmentics, which developed the xvision Spine System, which allows surgeons a detailed real-time visualisation of the patient’s anatomy during surgeries. This system focuses on spine surgeries only and provides the surgeon with “x-ray vision” through the patient’s tissues. This is made possible through an augmented reality wireless headset with a transparent display which doesn’t obstruct the operative field vision and has a built-in surgical tracking system which determines the position of a surgical tool in real-time. This device received FDA clearance and has been employed in more than 5000 spine surgeries in the USA.

Such examples are only a few of the innovations available in the revolution of in silico medicine and, as the term metaverse, they may be known only by a niche, but in the near future, such technologies will surely become a buzzword.





Date: 25/01/2024 | Tag: | News: 1538 of 1574
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