UK surgeons use Microsoft HoloLens to ‘see inside’ patients

UK surgeons use Microsoft HoloLens to ‘see inside’ patients
Mixed-reality headset allows surgical teams to locate blood vessels making procedures safer

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Surgeons in the UK are using Microsoft’s mixed-reality headset to ‘see inside’ patients before they operate on them.

A team at Imperial College London are wearing HoloLens devices in operating theatres to locate key blood vessels, bones and muscles, making procedures quicker and safer.

CT scans of the patient are uploaded to HoloLens, which places the images over the patient. Multiple surgeons wearing HoloLens headsets can also see what their colleagues are looking at, allowing greater collaboration.

“To perform the best operation, you have to plan it meticulously beforehand,” said Dr Philip Pratt, a research fellow in the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London. “This technology allows us to experience the data that we have collected from patients before their operation in the most realistic and natural way. You look at the leg and essentially see inside of it; you see the bones and the course of the blood vessels.”

Surgeons have traditionally used a handheld ultrasound scanner to find vessels under the skin detecting the movement of blood, but this is time-consuming and still requires some guesswork as to where the vessels are.

“Mixed reality offers a new way to find these blood vessels accurately and quickly by overlaying scan images onto the patient during the operation,” said Dr Pratt.

Rather than place users in a fully computer-generated world, as virtual reality does, HoloLens allows users to place 3D digital models in the room alongside them. As the Windows-10-based product does not have wires or external cameras, or require a phone or PC connection, users can walk around the objects they create and interact with them.

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