Medical Moment: How doctors are using augmented reality to prepare for the OR

Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 5:41 PM EST
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(WNDU) - Pokemon GO a mixed reality game that captivated millions of people urging them to find this 3D hologram character superimposed in their own reality, is now becoming a reality in the OR.

“The mixed reality headset allows us to use the patient’s anatomy in a 3D constructed program that allows us to plan for their case,” said Brain Rebolledo, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Scripps Clinic La Jolla.

Scripps orthopedic surgeon Brian Rebolledo is one of the first in the country to use 3D hologram technology to give him more insight at the operating table during surgery.

“It gives us a detailed map of the patient’s anatomy and we bring that map into the operating room with us. So, we’re able to use the headset with the 3D hologram and bring that right next to the patient while we’re putting the implants in,” Dr. Rebolledo said.

Before surgery, CT scans are used to create a hologram of the patient’s shoulder.

“The technology works with a headset that we use in the operating room, and this is by voice command and hand control commands,” Dr. Rebolledo said.

Surgeons can rotate and zoom in or out of the hologram model while comparing it in real time to the patient’s own anatomy.

“What that allows us to do is minimize the risk of improper placement, to minimize the risk, hopefully, of loosening over time, and to minimize risk to the soft tissue around the shoulder,” Dr. Rebolledo finished.

Making this new tech a real game changer in the OR.

Before 3D holograms, surgeons relied on x-rays and CT scans to help guide them. This gives them an even more realistic view of what’s really going on. Scripps Clinic is one of 33 healthcare providers in the U.S. using mixed reality technology for shoulder replacement surgery.

At Summit, shoulder surgeons including Dr. Freehill are using computer 3D modeling technology to convert a patient’s preoperative imaging studies to a 3D computer model.

Using that model, Dr. Freehill said, “We can conduct a virtual simulation of the surgery, test different implants to see how they fit, and determine how the implant would be best positioned within the shoulder itself. Using this technology, we can predict the implant type, how it will be seated, and even generate a special guide to align the implant optimally during shoulder replacement surgery.”