New computer-supported technologies are to aid work in surgical theatres and...
New computer-supported technologies are to aid work in surgical theatres and ensure a higher standard of safety.
Source: Digital Media Lab Bremen/TZI

Augmented reality and 3D printing for surgery

Researchers are combining virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D printing in order to improve the planning and realization of surgeries.

New technologies can help to provide surgeons in surgical theaters with important information and thus significantly increase the chances of success. A research group led by the Center for Computing Technologies (TZI) at the University of Bremen is currently developing test processes and applications. The use of virtual reality (VR), thus artificial realities created with the help of computers, augmented realities (AR), i.e. computer-supported expanded reality, and 3D printing are to improve the planning and realization of surgeries. The results are to be additionally employed for training purposes and for patient information.

Preoperative planning

The planning of an operation with 3D models has significant advantages over the current method with 2D pictures. Doctors have a notably more realistic and comprehensible overview of the area on which they wish to operate. Alongside the 3D computer models, the VIVATOP researchers are testing the use of lifelike physical models of the affected organs. The picture data is analyzed and prepared for this so that it can be imported to a 3D printer, in order for a lifelike organ, for example a patient’s liver, to be made.

The stated printed models make it possible for doctors to gain haptic experience with each organ, thus the use of their sense of touch, but can also be applied together with the virtual model. It is therefore possible for someone to hold the physical model in their hands and to explain with gestures, whilst other participants can see the gestures in connection with the highly detailed computer model through a VR headset. This method of use correlates more with our natural habits than the use of controllers in the way that they are used for the controlling of movement in games consoles.

The 3D prints, which can be either transparent or multicolored, do not only simplify the planning but also the consultation with patients. They allow the team of doctors to explain the procedures in a clearer manner.

3D printed model of a liver.
3D printed model of a liver.
Source: cirp

Support during surgery

During surgery, picture data and models of the organ help doctors to orient themselves and to make decisions. Additionally, the VIVATOP team is expanding an available augmented reality application, which allows for the relevant information to be shown in the field of view of a pair of glasses. Surgeons are able to control the unit with voice controls and without using their hands. At the same time there is also the possibility of presenting surgeries live in virtual reality so that experts outside of the surgical theater can be consulted (remote, collaborative, immersive surgery consultation). The hand movements of doctor teams and the procedures on the operated organ can be recorded using depth cameras, sensors and further technologies. These can then be shown in virtual reality. The planning details can also be displayed in virtual reality at the same time. Using telepresence, the system supports worldwide cooperation of specialists during a surgery.

Furthermore, vocational training, professional development and further education of young doctors can be designed in a more efficient manner by integrating AR, VR and 3D printing. Specific cases are able to be discussed using the 3D print data and can be precisely comprehended in virtual reality. The printed 3D models allow young doctors to gain valuable first experience. They can, for example, learn to examine tumors at varying stages by palpation (haptic feedback) and to subsequently judge the location in virtual reality. Individual surgery steps can also be trained in virtual reality.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

Augmented reality provides insights during liver surgery

Augmented reality provides insights during liver surgery

Researchers are developing 3D technologies for surgeons. The aids for surgery planning are particularly advanced.

Augmented Reality in the OR: matching man and machine

Augmented Reality in the OR: matching man and machine

One of the crucial future technologies in surgery is Augmented Reality. Most experts agree that AR will increase safety and efficiency, improve surgical training and decrease costs.

VR & 3D printing used to prepare for lung-operation

VR & 3D printing used to prepare for lung-operation

An anaesthesia team used 3D printing and virtual reality to produce an exact model of the airway of a 7-year-old girl in order to prepare properly for an operation to remove part of her lung.

Promising applications of mixed realities in medicine

Promising applications of mixed realities in medicine

At ECR 2019, researchers talked about the practical applications of mixed realities in medical education and training as well as preprocedural planning and visualization during a surgery.

“Taiwan excellence” at MEDICA 2018

“Taiwan excellence” at MEDICA 2018

At MEDICA 2018, various taiwanese companies showcased a whole range of innovative medical technology such as virtual 3D anatomical models to robotic rehabilitation helpers and smart nappies.

Research programme to bioprint ear and noses launched

Research programme to bioprint ear and noses launched

The Scar Free Foundation has launched a research programme that aims to revolutionise surgeons’ ability to reconstruct nose and ear cartilage in patients affected by facial difference.

Hip implant simulator for virtual surgery training

Hip implant simulator for virtual surgery training

The team of the Dynamic HIPS are working on a hip replacement simulator that will help future surgeons to practice the intervention and develop a reality-based feeling for the procedure.

How to improve VR use in medical education

How to improve VR use in medical education

A new report could help improve how immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are used in healthcare education and medical training.

3D printed liver to help surgeons prepare for operations

3D printed liver to help surgeons prepare for operations

New research could help surgeons perform liver resections with greater accuracy and deliver improved patient outcomes.

Popular articles

Subscribe to Newsletter