Augmented reality in surgery
You've heard of virtual reality, now James C Thomas describes a new technology that might revolutionise surgery
Many people have heard of virtual reality but fewer will have heard of “augmented reality”—an exciting technology that might bring huge benefits to the operating theatre.
In many ways augmented reality is analogous to virtual reality. It is a combination of virtual and graphic three dimensional images transmitted to a user. However, augmented reality differs from virtual reality in that it involves overlaying these graphic images onto real life, engaging the user in a semi-immersive, interactive, three dimensional environment. By superimposing virtual images, videos, or text onto real life, an experience can be heightened or even modified.
For many years the military has used this technology in areas such as aircraft navigation. Augmented reality also has applications in medicine and surgery, including in surgical training, preoperative planning, intraoperative imaging, and enhanced visualisation.
One of the driving forces that led to the development of augmented reality in surgery was the need