Augmented Reality Surgery Stretches The Definition Of “Telehealth”.

The European Space Agency has developed what we could insultingly call a “gizmo”, but is in reality an extremely sophisticated device to teach people untrained in medicine how to perform surgical procedures… well, “some” surgical procedures. The idea is that astronauts and others finding themselves in remote locations with no access to operating theatres, might be “coachable” to perform essential procedures. In the article, which can be found on Discover News here, “users who participated in trial runs reported they were able to perform complicated procedures on their own.”

The “augmented reality” device is called the Computer Assisted Medical Diagnosis and Surgery System (CAMDASS) and provides step-by-step tutorial for untrained medical operators. The prototype has already been used only to execute ultrasound exams, which are already performed aboard the International Space Station (but jungle the article suggests, tongue in cheek, that appendectomies can’t be too far off).

According to the article, the ultrasound probe is linked with CAMDASS and tracked by an infrared camera. The head mount includes a 3D augmented reality visor which provides the user with instructions of how to use the probe. Reference ultrasound images also appear for the wearer to refer to and can be controlled by voice commands.

It’s tempting to laugh this off as one of those “good stories”, but suspend your scepticism for a minute and consider whether medicine cold benefit from the no doubt huge amount of money that has gone into developing this technology. It could, for example become a superb training tool for young doctors or surgeons wishing to learn new techniques. Already training is entering a new paradigm as the old watch one, do one routine becomes supplanted or at least supplemented by “wet labs” and other, often company supplied, training vehicles. This could be an excellent adjunct to a training regime. Watch one, do one in wet lab, do one with augmented reality guidance.

Source: Discovery News, medlatest staff