Transforming Surgery Using Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality

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September 16, 2022


AI / Healthcare / Immersive Technology


Transforming Surgery Using Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a hot topic and an integral part of daily work in the healthcare industry. This employs a series of logical learning algorithms and allows the computer machines to execute the task like that of the human brain. In this way, machines mimic the human intelligence in decision making through these trained algorithms and labeled data, which help recognize the pattern associated with it. Machine learning (ML) and deep learning are two essential subfields of AI. Machine learning gives AI systems the ability to learn automatically without being explicitly programmed. Deep learning models can make their own decisions entirely independent.

Artificial intelligence has established uncountable applications in medicine and dentistry fields. Surgical robots have made the procedure more precise and predictable. The prominent application of robotic surgery can be seen in all areas of surgery and oral and maxillofacial surgery. Other applications include bioprinting, diabetic retinopathy, spinal imaging, gynecologic surgery, and radiology. On the other hand, augmented reality provides a composite view of the surgical field by superimposing a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world.

Surgery and AR

Remote surgery and monitoring of surgeons in the operating room by senior surgeons has been made possible by AI-powered Tele-surgical techniques. Intraoperative guidance through video images and telecommunication networks has been proven helpful, especially during limited access to hospitals, travel restrictions, or pandemics like COVID-19. With the arrival of minimally invasive surgical procedures, AI and AR-enabled surgical mentoring are becoming a feasible option for many surgeons. Real-time guidance from experienced surgeons regarding the appropriate incision or instrument to use can be projected onto the operator’s screen to guide the surgeon throughout the surgical procedure. Surgeon’s workflow can also be audited through data based on techniques through computer vision.

Robotic Surgery

Robots help in analyzing the medical records of the patient before the surgery to guide the surgical instruments during the surgical procedure. This has been found to drastically reduce the length of patient stay in the hospital due to the minimally invasive nature of the robot-assisted surgery. With the help of AI, robots can also use patients’ previous operation history to recommend newer surgical techniques. Research shows that AI-assisted robotic procedures could result in almost five times lesser complications than surgeons operating traditionally. An example is an eye surgery that used the surgical robot Da Vinci that allowed surgeons to perform complicated procedures with greater control. Similarly, Heartlander, which is a miniature robot, assists in cardiac surgery by entering a small incision on the thoracic area for mapping and treatment purposes.


Even though AI has not reached the front position of patient care, many studies suggest its potential healthcare processes. Despite the challenges and essential concerns, AI technology has now started to bring business benefits in real life. Many companies like Google, IBM, Nvidia, Blippar, and Baidu invest a vast amount of money in AI, opening new business opportunities.

ImmersiveTouch is a company that develops solutions for surgical planning and training using the ImmersiveView Surgical Plan platform that created 3D replicas from patient scans. This permits the surgeons to work closely with their team reading different aspects of the surgical techniques. Oculus Rift headset enables surgeons to virtually cut, draw, and measure anatomical sites. Truevision creates 3D digital visualization software and augmented reality tools for surgeons. It has been most helpful for doctors who are operating ophthalmology, neurosurgery, and microsurgeries. The Digital Microscope Platform, TrueVision’s main product, transforms conventional microscopes into digital surgery systems.

Eachpixel is an interactive surgical platform to identify the various surgical anatomical areas and allows detailed medical image analysis in real-time. Augmented intelligence develops educational tools for physicians and medical students using Body Maps. This helps students and professionals understand intricately detailed, anatomically areas for surgical purposes.

SurgicalTheater offers a VR-based Surgical Rehearsal Platform (SRP) that helps neurosurgeons plan and rehearse surgical procedures. 2D brain images are transformed into individualized 3D models used to educate the patient about the surgical procedure. ExplORer Surgical allows a subject expert to mark-up a surgical area for guidance through the screen present in the operating room and provides a virtual laser pointer. Proximie helps doctors and surgeons to interact similar to the ones they have during surgeries. It also helps in demonstrating various steps of the surgery in real-time leveraging AI and ML. Proprio creates 3D medical images to help surgeons visualize obstructions and interact with colleagues about the surgical plans and share surgical data in real-time using machine learning and AR.

Future Outlook

The progress in AI and AR technologies has been reshaping surgery towards error-free and autonomous methods for treating symptoms of acute and chronic diseases. By holding such techniques, pronounced advancement can be made in diagnostic procedures. The combination of AI and robotics would discern the complicated situations with more precision.
AR is about to add a digital intelligence layer to our profession at high speed. Wearing AR glasses during consultation time, discussing cases, or performing surgery, will become routine in the next decade. In the coming years, a generation that has been raised with intensive daily training in AR will enter the surgical specialty.

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