New augmented reality technology gives a Virginia surgeon 'x-ray vision'.' (Image: ABC7 Photo)
Augmented reality technology often used in video games is now being implemented in spine surgery in Northern Virginia.
Remember Pokémon Go? It’s the mobile phone app that uses augmented reality by placing characters in a real-life environment. That concept was used in one of the first-of-its-kind operations this month.
“So, I can see essentially inside the patient. It’s almost like I have x-ray vision,” said Dr. Christopher Good, president of Virginia Spine Institute.
Good is the first surgeon in the Washington metro region to use AR to operate. The Xvision by Augmedics headset screen virtually places the patient’s scans on the operating table.
“This is next gen stuff. This is the F35 of the surgical world,” said patient Trent Pederson.
The comparison to a combat aircraft is quite fitting for the 20-year active duty Air Force veteran. Pederson traveled to Virginia for surgery at Reston Hospital Center after suffering from debilitating nerve pain in his legs.
“It was just getting to that point where I couldn’t really bear it,” he said.
Video from the 2.5-hour long surgery shows the doctor’s delicate internal movements.
“If somebody’s had surgery before or previous problems, lots of times their insides and their anatomy is not normal. So, being able to see the scan can really help you when it’s challenging anatomy. I think of this is like using the GPS when you’re driving in a big city that you’ve never been to before. It helps you to get there on the first try,” Dr. Good explained during a Zoom interview with ABC7 reporter Victoria Sanchez.
The surgery was a success.
“After I got up and started walking around, I noticed the nerve pain in the leg, a lot of it was gone. It was pretty surreal,” Peterson said. “It’s going to be a tremendous help to my life. Mentally, emotionally, physically, it’s going to be great.”
The augmented reality headset could be used for more than spine surgery, says Dr. Good. He expects to see the technology in operating rooms across the country soon.