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Spine surgeons to enhance surgical skills with AR headsets

The gadgets, which the FDA approved in 2019, are rapidly being utilised in operating rooms throughout the United States.

Revolutionising the way spine surgeons perceive their operating environment, an augmented reality headset has made a remarkable impact in the field. Having gained FDA approval in 2019, these devices are steadily gaining popularity across operating rooms in the United States.

Although it may resemble a gaming accessory, this augmented reality headset holds transformative potential for Dr. Frank Phillips, a spinal surgeon. As the Director of Spine Surgery, Midwest Orthopaedics, RUSH, Phillips attests to its efficacy, safety, and efficiency in the realm of spine surgery.

Developed by Augmedics, a company based in Arlington Heights, the headset forms an integral part of the xvision Spine System. Augmedics claims that this innovative system grants surgeons a virtual x-ray vision of a patient’s anatomy during surgical procedures.

Phillips expresses his astonishment at the headset’s ability to provide a three-dimensional visualisation of the spine beneath the patient’s skin with unparalleled precision. During surgery, this immersive technology superimposes real-time anatomical information over the patient.

According to Phillips, real-time physiology delivers astounding convenience in addition to improving screw insertion precision. Because it is a heads-up display, doctors may keep their entire concentration on the surgical area without needing to shift it to screens. One of Dr. Phillips’ patients, Kathy Sefton from Arlington Heights, vividly describes the transformation in her life. Prior to her surgery, even simple tasks like taking out the garbage would intensify her pain to unbearable levels. Dr. Phillips explained how he was going to employ the xvision Spine System throughout her surgery and suggested that she undergo the spinal fusion treatment. Sefton’s response was filled with amazement.

She said that the experience is like that of a video game. Now, ten months post-surgery, Sefton experiences a newfound freedom. She can embrace her grandson, Logan, and is even planning a family trip to Disney World—activities she thought were impossible before the surgery.

Sefton expressed that everyone wins if this sort of innovation can speed up the procedure, reduce the length of the operation, and decrease the recuperation time.

Phillips believes that this groundbreaking tool not only enhances his surgical skills but also results in better outcomes for his patients. Having employed the headset in hundreds of surgeries, he envisions a future where augmented reality can extend beyond bone anatomy to include real-time visualisation of soft tissue and nerve locations.

Phillips explained that in the long term, AR headsets will enable people to investigate not only the most minute features of soft tissues as well as the architecture of skeletons.

While the FDA approved this innovation in 2019, ongoing studies are paving the way for its expanded applications in the medical landscape.

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