Recently I wrote about a novel new tool to telementor surgeons as they operate on patients. The system allows the surgeon performing the operation to receive help and guidance from a more experienced peer using telecommunications equipment.
The technology, called the System for Telementoring with Augmented Reality (STAR), was documented in a recent study and harnesses a range of technologies to provide surgeons with a transparent display, and several sensors to improve the communication between mentor and mentee.
Preparing for surgery
This approach is pretty cool, yet it nonetheless only provides help and support during the surgery itself. A new health tech startup called EchoPixel is hoping to change that by providing an accurate and realistic representation of the organ being operated on prior to the surgery taking place.
The company wanted to improve the existing methods of preparing for surgery, which usually revolve around 2 dimensional images produced by CT and MRI scanners of the relevant organs.
Bringing organs to life
Their technology takes these 2D images and produces 3D virtual reality organs that allow the surgeons to explore them virtually prior to operating on them in real life.
The 3D creations can be examined via the zSpace platform, with surgeons able to fully manipulate the images, including dissecting them using a stylus device. Indeed, should they require a fly-through of the colon, such functionality is available to them.
The aim is to provide the surgeons with a more accurate reflection of the organ they will soon be operating on so that they are as well prepared as possible before reaching for the scalpel.
It will also allow surgeons to clearly talk patients through the surgery they’re about to undertake, and assist with their compliance with treatment plans.
Coming to market
The tool has recently received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is in trials in a number of hospitals around America.
There are, of course, also possibilities for using the tool in a training capacity, with potential applications for training people in other sectors too, and companies such as Foxconn have already begun using it in an educational capacity.
Check out the video below for an overview of the system, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.