Augmented Reality in Medicine and Healthcare

Being done with the detailed prospects of AR in various fields of life, here is an insight into the numerous life-saving contributions of AR in the field of medicine. Medicine, healthcare, and surgery are those essential yet critical fields of life which handle a lot of risks and extract the right way to turn the tables on them. Often due to mishaps and mismanagements, the scenario turns the other way round, still there are many ways to eradicate these errors.

One of the best technologies in facilitating this objective is the incorporation of AR. Handling a 100,000 miles length of blood vessels packed in a 6 ft human body consisting of a variety of organs is a real troublesome job. Tracing the exact location of infection and then removing it precisely, without damaging any neighboring part is a magnum opus. Though avoided much, still the wrong vein identification and little bit dislocated incision can be life ending. In such scenarios, the ease provided by software becomes significant. In almost all steps of medical procedures, AR is causing wonders, be it the diagnosis of an ailment, treatment options, procedural feasibility, inpatient and outpatient services or surgical processes. A detailed overview of all these applications is right ahead.


Providing imaging techniques like MRI, X-ray scans, ultrasound, Endoscopy and more, the exact location of the tumor or the infected area gets ensured. The integration of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality techniques have now taken this to the next level. Using cameras equipped with these technologies, the reports and results now come out to be more precise, easy to understand and work upon. With all data fetched through sensors, interpreted through AI and displayed through AR, the risk of humanly errors is brought down considerably.

Talking about its role in the diagnosis of practically inaccessible areas such as the cranial infections or neural damage, the AR powered software presents a virtual image of all the possible sites of infections and then the received sensors’ data rules out the sites marking them safe, identifying the real spot longing for treatment. This technique is now named as neuronavigation.


A simple procedure like injecting patients can include a variety of risks. In a critical scenario, treating him on assumed veins’ location can prove fatal. But now, the invention of apps like Evena, AccuVein, facilitate the procedure by providing a visual display of the vein network on the patient's body. Drug injection is a toddler’s job now! Dr. Philip Pratt, a professor at Imperial College, London states that,
Augmented Reality offers a new way to find these blood vessels under the skin accurately and quickly, by overlaying scan images onto the patient during the operation.
The developments in the integrated AR and medical field has also lead mankind to optimal solutions of many incurable impairments. The Massachusetts-based technology company has developed a new software suite, named Brain Power by merging the neuroscience with Google Glass. The product obtained is of much significance to the ones suffering from autism i.e. a psychological condition causing disturbed social behaviors, language, communication and positive outlook on life. Using wearables equipped with this software, the autism patients can be taught effectively to rule out the anomaly.

Another important service of AR to patients is in the optical field by the invention of devices aiding the visually impaired. NuEyes and Aira are the most significant ones here. These devices are a hands-free, electronic pair of glasses which communicate the patient about the real-world environment he is in, notifying about obstacles, to cope up with their current vision deficiencies making them capable enough to perform daily routine tasks.

Similarly, the AR-based apps have also eased the demonstration of treatment feasibility and its prospects. Apps like Orca Eye Decide developed by the Orca Health is a remarkably working application using AR, AI and the built-in database to virtually show the way procedures are supposed to work, their merits, demerits, risk factors, and cautions. In such a way, the gap between the doctor and patient is also bridged ensuring a higher level of trust relationship.

Another significant and remarkable service of AR is in the lowering of anxiety, stress, and depression. The results of surveys carried world-wide prove AR to cause a wave of happiness to the disabled by providing optimal solutions to their disabilities, eradicating the depression and inferiority complexes caused by their lacking.


Another important usage of this technology is in the pre-surgery preparations. Using AR powered software, the doctors can now get a pretty clear idea if a surgery is feasible or not.

When taking into the account the surgeries involving specific organs like the frequently operated liver, kidneys, heart and lungs, the importance of Echo Pixel cannot be denied. This software provides a three-dimensional holographic view of the organ under consideration, making the decisions pertaining to the way of operation easy such as the adequate size of the incision, its depth, and dimensions, the angle, and equipment to be used, all can be identified in a virtual image of the real patient. In this way, doctors can have a quite evident image of how the surgery is ideally supposed to proceed, leading to a hustle free, pre-planned operation.

The Holographic Navigation Platform developed by Scopis is the real-world implementation of this method. Devices like Microsoft HoloLens are now aiding this procedure too. Worth mentioning in this regard is the ProjectDR, a process of mapping the MRI and X-ray scan results onto the patient’s body. Tumor identification was never easy before!

The line of action of all these apps mentioned is much similar. They identify the exact point of concern in a mixed reality overlay on the patient’s body. Gone are the days when doctors studied the X-ray and other tests reports hours before the surgery to devise the adequate surgery plan. Now with the Augmented Reality view, the doctors can have a precise idea of the site to be treated with the details marked onto the patients’ body virtually. Augmedics, in the case of spinal surgery, holds vital significance due to the similar application as stated above.

Another similar app is developed by the Medsights Tech. This app is going a long way in aiding difficult complex surgical procedures, but in a different way compared to what’s mentioned before. This app enables doctors to see through the patient’s skin, providing the inside body view and presenting a direct eye image of the tumor or the infection virtually. Through this app, the X-ray vision gained to the doctors eliminates 90% of the tumor identification issues.

With the integration of the latest tech and software in the field of medicine, many benefits have been observed and yet many more are making their way for the development of mankind. In words of Dr. Amitabh Varshney, director of the University of Maryland’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies,
These tools present a historic opportunity to transform medicine and patient care.
Although these inventions may not seem to ensure a high level of accuracy and precision and complete reliance on software may seem a bit risky, yet this is not the end of the advancements for many wonders are around the corner.

Image Credit: Nancy Rubin

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