Researchers at the Osaka Medical College in Osaka, Japan, have recently developed an augmented reality (AR) program that could assist plastic surgeons during surgical procedures. The program works by creating a 3D simulation of the patient’s desired results and then using AR to project those results over the patient’s face during the procedure.
Researchers Koichi Ueda, Ph.D., and Daisuke Mitsuno, M.D., believe the AR program could assist with eight current common surgical procedures, with more possible as the technology further develops.
Dr. Ryan Mitchell of Henderson, Nevada, thinks programs like the AR technology developed at Osaka Medical College could be very useful to surgeons working on more complex procedures. But he's skeptical that it would be of much use on a daily basis.
"Most surgeons wouldn’t need such a complex map of potential outcomes during surgery," Mitchell says, "but it could be nice to have just in case."
Mitchell says it would be most useful in complex surgeries such as facial reconstruction, but innovative technology such as AR tends to come at a steep price and may not be a worthwhile investment for casual or infrequent use.
"It could be a tough sell, especially for experienced facial surgeons," he says.
However, he does believe if new features are added, such as the ability for patients to see their estimated results in three dimensions, it could be very popular.
"It can be very difficult for some patients to envision their end results, even with the technology we have today," Mitchell says. "Augmented reality programs that could help patients get a clearer picture of what to expect post-op would be very useful to both the surgeon and the patient."