Augmented reality may sound like science fiction, but its revolutionary technology is allowing spine surgeons to see more than ever. WTOP News consulted Virginia Spine Institute’s Dr. Good and Dr. Jazini to uncover the benefits of this new technology being deemed the future of spine surgery.
Using a special headset, the AR “Xvision” made by Augmedics, Virginia Spine Institute’s surgeons are able to see a GPS-like map of their patients’ anatomy. “We can actually look at the patient and simultaneously see the scan so it’s like we have a blueprint right in front of us,” said Dr. Christopher Good to WTOP.
Compared to traditional surgery where this blueprint map is not available, surgery using AR technology is less invasive, improves accuracy, and provides a less painful recovery for patients.“The beautiful thing about augmented reality is I can put the headset on and have the scan right in front of me, but I can still use the traditional techniques that I’ve been trained on over all these years,” said Dr. Good.
WTOP consulted with VSI’s additional Augmented Reality pioneer, Dr. Jazini, who was the first in the world to use AR during a hybrid spine surgery, combing a lumbar disc replacement and spinal fusion. “Using augmented reality allows the surgeon to ultimately focus on the patient,” Dr. Jazini said, noting that doctors have had to traditionally glance over at scans and pictures during surgery.
“I want to be looking directly at the patient the entire time,” said Dr. Jazini. “That improves precision, makes the surgery more efficient and less invasive because we don’t have to see as much of the anatomy by exposing it and cutting the skin,” he shared with WTOP.
Even more great news about AR?“More often than not our patients were staying in the hospital for four or five days after traditional surgery,” Dr. Jazini said. “Using this technology, our patients are recovering more quickly and even going home the next day.”
“This type of innovation has limitless possibilities,” Dr. Jazini added. “We’re at the tip of the iceberg.”
Reviewed by: Dr. Christopher Good, MD, FACS.