Augmented reality guides surgeons during surgery | Amazing Science |

The system, which combines camera images of the outside of the patient with three-dimensional X-rays of the inside of the body, is designed to create a detailed path for the spinal surgeon to follow. This could help to improve surgical tool navigation and implant accuracy, as well as reducing procedure times.


Spinal procedures have traditionally been carried out using open surgery, in which a large incision is made in the body and the muscles moved aside in order to expose the vertebrae.

But this invasive procedure results in a lengthy recovery period and a considerable amount of pain for the patient, according to Ronald Tabaksblat, business leader of image-guided therapy systems at Philips.


However, replacing open surgery with minimally-invasive techniques is particularly difficult in the case of spinal procedures such as vertebrae fusion, as screws are inserted which must be positioned with sub-millimeter accuracy, said Tabaksblat. “A small error in one direction and you could hit an artery, causing major bleeding, while a small error in another direction means you could hit a nerve, causing nerve damage or even paralysis,” he said.

“This technology is designed to offer the ability to carry out a procedure with a high level of confidence and accuracy, using minimally-invasive techniques.”


The system uses high-resolution optical cameras mounted on a flat-panel X-ray detector to image the surface of the patient. It then combines the external view captured by the cameras with the 3D internal view acquired by the X-ray system to create accurate real-time, augmented-reality images of the patient’s anatomy.

Via Daniel Perez-Marcos