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The FDA has approved an AR solution to simplify navigation during spine surgery

Similar to how a car utilises a route map or Global Positioning System (GPS) to negotiate unknown roads, physicians can now utilise operational guidance systems to help them gain greater familiarity with the anatomy of patients.

Conventional systems, on the other hand, can be cumbersome to establish due to the necessity of manually mapping out roadmaps. Another issue with these involves surgeons constantly having to look away from their patients to the guide that is on the screen placed somewhere else. Also, the costs associated with availing of the technology have proven to be overwhelming to many, prohibiting surgical teams from using it at all.

The innovative solution from Novarad is hopefully about to tackle many of the issues mentioned above. It relies on cutting-edge augmented reality technology to create virtual superimpositions of the anatomical navigations directly over the body of a patient. It is also beneficial because the hardware costs of the AR are also quite low.

Novarad revealed this week that the FDA has certified the VisAR technology that gives assistance during spine procedures. It can offer surgeons in the US a state-of-the-art and efficient solution compared to the existing range of surgical navigation systems. The VisAR pre-surgical plan application enables surgeons to add virtual comments to visual content and also group images appropriately. It is utilised before a surgical procedure to analyse the imaging data of a patient.

They can then choose to transform the visual information into a 2D or 3D virtual hologram. Once generated, this hologram gets directly mapped on the body of the patient with CT scan markers that help in its placement. Applying the simulated model as a prolonged guideline, Novarad claims that surgeons may put pedicle screws down the spine with a high 2mm precision.

Because of a collaboration between Novarad and Microsoft, clinicians observe the hologram throughout the operation by employing Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 AR and VR headset. The headset is available at prices starting from $3,500. There is no extra gear needed, and Novarad claims that the whole installation period for the guidance system in the surgery room is roughly two minutes.

According to CEO Wendell Gibby, who is also an M.D., the AR hologram solution is an instance of groundbreaking technology that comes with robot-like accuracy, along with the movement pattern of a stethoscope. Gibby also stated that the system also possesses the flexibility of sentient intelligence. Elaborating further, he informed that VisAR functions effectively as a surgical GPS tool, helping surgeons navigate with greater ease and perform more efficiently.



In the near future, the company hopes to obtain foreign approvals for the AR hologram spine guidance system, as well as further U.S. certifications for head- and neck-centric variations of the same technology. Those are also under consideration right now by the FDA.

In the surgery room, augmented and virtual reality systems are now especially popular. Many notable companies are now entering into partnerships with AR and VR development companies to come up with solutions that are finding practical use in operating rooms.

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