Results of Survey Medical Augmented Reality 2015

Last year the readers of this blog had been invited to participate at a small survey to assess certain trends for AR being applied for medical topics. At the end, there were not more than 22 valid answers (Need to work on my marketing 😉 .. or People hesitate to reveal their ideas?? 😉 ). Anyhow. I would like to present today the results of the survey.

I have asked “Which applications can benefit from AR in your opinion? and proposed the following answers to be judged:

  • surgical navigation
  • intraoperative planning
  • educating anatomy
  • teaching surgical procedures
  • teaching clinical staff how to use complex medical devices
  • advertising healthcare products and services
  • teaching nurses on interaction and communication with patients
  • patient education & doctor – patient communication

Interestingly, for surgical navigation, educating anatomy and teaching surgical procedures, there are two parties having very contrary opinions on the benefit of AR. Anyhow, these topics seem to be the hot ones.

Medical AR Survey Applications

Which applications can benefit from AR in your opinion?

I then asked “What are the technical problems that still need to be solved?”

  • developing useful and usable display hardware
  • reaching accurate enough registration of real and virtual objects
  • finding methods composing virtual and real entities to reach intuitive perception of the AR scene, e.g. depth perception
  • developing robust registration and tracking methods
  • designing interactive user interfaces to intuitively control virtual and real parts of the scene
  • integrating AR technology into medical workflows.

Accuracy of registration and tracking as well as the integration of AR into the OR seem to be the most challenging topics at the moment. Overall it looks like that for none of the topics satisfying solutions have been found so far.

Medical AR Survey TODOs

What are the technical problems that still need to be solved?

To get more input on future work to be done, I have asked “What other challenges do we need to address to make AR useful for supporting medical tasks?

  • Real time motion tracking and navigation
  • “I personally believe the gaming industry will push most of the technological needs for AR, however, novel techniques that look at perception and interaction are needed. The one thing that wasn’t mentioned was testing and showing benefits of AR and thereby convincing medical professionals that it is useful.”
  • “Integration of large arrays of low-cost capture devices such as cameras and surgical tools would help build a more accurate representation of the surgical field. This way we could more toward rendering of a fully modelled 3D environment on AR displays instead of trying to combine a 2D image and a 3D model.”
  • „- Making it sexy – In other words, making doctors (and even harder – Insurance Companies) see the use and need for it.“
  • „Make it simple, make the interaction faster and more reliable. Make it work as natural and seamless as possible so that the doctors can take advantage of the new technology and not the other way around. „
  • „make it pervasive but least intrusive“
  • “Robust technology that can be trustworthy in fault-sensitive environment like hospitals”
  • “Tracking, interactive AR (hand gesture) and transparency of virtual elements, virtualization of real body parts/organs of actual patients”
  • “Organs sensing”

I posed then the following question: “Which other applications of the medical world can benefit from AR?

Participants proposed to use AR for supporting

  • wound care
  • preparing treatment protocols
  • doctor – patient telecommunication
  • patient identification (ID-Picture)
  • tele-presence (remote assistance, using nurse but supervised by doctor)
  • diagnosis in the emergency room
  • fast patient file scanning
  • indoor navigation and clinic record efficient retrieving.
  • AR-aided diagnosis through X-ray superimposed on the patient
  • dental procedures
  • breast cancer detection
  • dietetics

Then I wanted to assess “Which surgical disciplines benefit most from AR?

Participants suggested

  • trauma
  • hepatobiliary
  • most minimally invasive techniques
  • “neurosurgery in the short term as tissue deformation is kept within bounds that allow robust automatic registration”
  • “bariatric surgery would benefit massively. Navigating through a lot of anatomy can be difficult. (I am referring to general surgery on bariatric patients, not necessarily surgery for weight loss)”
  • Controlling and recording in general in the OR
  • “I think surgical training will lead the way, due to constraints on operating on live patients until a procedure is proven safe.”
  • cardio-vascular and neurological surgery
  • breast cancer biopsy
  • cardiology
  • all are good indications, those already working on numerical images are the easiest one

Thanks again for participating and sharing your opinion. And sorry again, that finally the tickets for InsideAR in San Francisco became invalid since Apple bought Metaio and the show was cancelled.

Christoph Bichlmeier

Christoph Bichlmeier

Enthusiast of Augmented Reality for Medical Applications.

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