Augmented Reality Software Shows Promise In Neurosurgical Applications

Medtronic, a tech giant specializing in medical devices, has recently teamed up with the virtual reality startup, Surgical Theater, to create an augmented reality (AR) technology that can assist in real-time visualization of cranial mapping during surgery.

This technology gives neurosurgeons a 3D, superimposed view of the area requiring surgery inside the brain, with navigation tools for zooming around the area from different angles and from different perspectives. This tool was designed to enable them to map out strategies for execution before entering the operating room. It also offers a valuable resource to surgeons in-training, giving them immersive layouts before they put their skills to practice in a hospital environment.

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"SyncAR technology does not stop at planning and navigation; we open the skull, provide surgeons with x-ray vision of the anatomy and play an integral role throughout the operative workflow," said Moty Avisar, Surgical Theater’s Co-founder and CEO, in a statement regarding this new technology.

Avisar and his Co-founder Alon Geri, both have extensive training as pilots and software and simulation engineers, and now apply that knowledge into building 3D anatomical models to aid in healthcare practice and training.

This, paired with Medtronic’s expansive navigation system, StealthStation, and microscope-based, highly accurate anatomical optics, which highlight important arteries and brain structure components, create a tool that is both reliable and fine-tuned to the intricacy of brain anatomy.

AR for surgical training has already proved to be a fruitful endeavor, as companies like Osso VR have seen as much as a 230% increase in surgical performance from surgeons utilizing their Oculus headsets for training.

Many large hospitals like Stanford, Emory, and Johns Hopkins have also invested in money and resources into AR expansions. Johns Hopkins became the first-ever hospital to perform AR-assisted surgeries using startup Augmedics’ headsets.

Though increases in new VR utilization may not rise as quickly with the decrease in hospital funding as a result of COVID-19 exhausting resources, it is predicted that hospitals that have already begun investing in such technology will likely continue, as these resources bring clear results to surgical efficiency.