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Augmented reality amplifies X-ray images to help surgeons

Adding augmented reality to some minimally invasive surgeries can guide the procedures and reduce the number of images needed, according to a new study in the Journal of Medical Imaging.

The study specifically looked at orthopedic surgery,...

The researchers, from Johns Hopkins University, hypothesized that co-calibrating an optical see-through head-mounted display with the C-arm could render the 2-D X-rays as virtual objects in 3-D to provide surgical guidance. It would be combined with an AI marker projected on the patient for mapping purposes that the C-arm and the head-mounted display would detect. The augmented reality technology would stream interoperative images from the C-arm to the head-mounted display being worn by the surgeon and visualized using a virtual monitor.

The researchers used the ARToolKit, the open source software library for building AR applications to create and calibrate the marker and created a guidance system that connected the C-arm to the head-mounted display, enabling them to recalibrate on the fly.

“AR guidance must integrate as seamlessly into the surgical workflow as possible to promote wide acceptance among surgeons and thus make a difference. The system proposed [by us] … is one step in this direction,” he says. Next steps include bringing in pre-operative 3-D images, since the system only provides sparse virtual content because of its design, says Unberath.

“In addition to this, we realize that current (head-mounted display-based augmented reality) is not yet sufficiently immersive, which is one of the major challenges future work will have to address,” he says.

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