Editor’s Note: Each Friday the Barton Blog will highlight new healthcare technology including smartphone applications, medical devices, and other tools.
The next time you go in for surgery, the surgeon could be using the same technology kids are using play video games. Researchers and surgeons from King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust are piloting ‘touchless’ technology in the operating room using hardware found in Microsoft’s XBOX® Kinect. The camera-based technology allows surgeons to use hand gestures and voice commands to view and manipulate digital images of the patient’s anatomy. With certain movements and voice commands, the surgeon can zoom, pan across, and rotate images. Those images are created by a computer program that converts a 3D image of the patient’s anatomy into several 2D images from different directions.
High-quality digital images help surgeons better navigate and diagnose patient conditions, however accessing them in the operating room has been a chore. Using a mouse and keyboard would contaminate the surgeon’s hands, requiring several minutes of rescrubbing. Speaking instructions to an assistant is frustrating and doesn’t allow for total control. In a press release, Tom Carrell, Senior Lecturer at King’s College London and vascular surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said “This technology is very exciting as it allows me to easily and precisely control the imaging I need during operations. Touchless interaction means there is no compromise in the sterility of the operating field or in patient safety.”
The system is being tested on vascular patients at St. Thomas’ Hospital, and people involved with the project hope to expand its usage into neurosurgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. The ultimate goal is to develop a toolkit that can be used in any hospital. A post on the Microsoft® Research website states that the trial is just the beginning for this technology. Microsoft developers say it could change the way surgeons spatially configure themselves in the operating room. It’s hard not to imagine surgeons looking like Tom Cruise’s character in the 2002 movie “Minority Report, controlling several screens and images with a series of hand movements.
Pretty amazing stuff!