Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headset is rapidly moving from a curiosity to a useful and practical tool in everyday professional settings.
The latest implementation is using the headset to guide orthopaedic surgeons during the messy and risky work of spinal surgery.
Dr. Henrique Lampert, an orthopedic spine surgeon working in Santa Catarina, Brazil at the Instituto de Ortopedia e Traumatologia de Jaraguá do Sul, along with his development partner Dr. Bruno Gobbato, is using the device to help with a common procedure called spine arthrodesis, commonly called spinal fusion, where screws are used to fix parts of the spinal where movement caused pain and other issues. They are using the headset to guide surgeons to more precisely place these pedicle screws, to prevent complications such as neural damage and the implant loosening, which can be caused by incorrect placement.
The HoloLens help the team visualize a 3D model of the patient’s spine created via 3D CT scan which includes the ideal trajectory of the screws. The team notes that a HoloLens is cheaper and more accessible than intra-operative CT scanning, which is available in only a few locations.
They note that the only issue is the actual rendering power of the device, as they feel somewhat limited to the size and level of detail of the 3D mesh the HoloLens supports as well as the framerate it can generate from a complex model. On the other hand they love the “limited” field of view, as it allows them to have an unobstructed view of other screens, records and other items not generated by the HoloLens.
The implementation has not been commercialized yet, but Dr Lampert hopes to create a course which other surgeons interested in HoloLens can use to implement the solution locally.
See a video (which includes actual surgery) showing off the technology below.