Recent research performed by Koichi Ueda, M.D., PhD, Daisuke Mitsuno, M.D., and colleagues have revealed that “augmented reality” may be useful for the future of surgical procedures as well as the teaching of surgical skills.
This research group created 3D simulations of the desired results, which were then projected onto the faces of the patients to provide a completely new way to visualize how they would look post-op.
“Augmented reality is a technology that combines computer-generated images on a screen with a real object or scene,” explained Drs. Ueda and Mitsuno, as published in Science Daily. “We sought to develop a sophisticated yet simple and modifiable AR technique for use during plastic and reconstructive surgery.”
The researchers used this technology in eight patient cases, utilizing a high-definition camera to capture the facial surface as a 3D image. Tomography scans were then created for the researcher to obtain digital information about the facial structure of each patient.
These images were subsequently manipulated to create the final results the researchers wanted. For example, the imaging was used on a patient with a fractured cheekbone by superimposing the image of the undamaged cheekbone from the patient’s normal cheek.
The study authors took the 3D image of the desired result and projected it over the patient’s face during their reconstructive procedure with the use of smart glasses.
Different technical issues were resolved during this time, and the researchers worked to perfect the equipment as much as possible.
Benefits of AR Technology for Facial Reconstructive Surgery
“In all cases in this study, the body surface contour after the procedure and the ideal postoperative image almost coincided,” Dr. Ueda said. This could potentially help surgeons immensely by allowing them to visualize what the desired result of the surgery will look like.
Though the technology was not used in this research to guide surgery, it helped surgeons during their procedures and confirmed that the outcome was successful. In the future, this technology could also potentially help teach surgical skills to those who are still learning.
Some other improvements will undoubtedly be made to the 3D devices in the future that may even allow for additional options, including guiding doctors during surgery.
“Our findings are not only useful for body surface evaluation,” said Drs. Ueda and Mitsuno, “but also for effective evaluation of AR technology in the field of plastic surgery.”
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