Archive ORX Session Previews 2018

Mixed Reality in Surgery: Dare to Creatively Disrupt

The first surgeon to ever use Google Glass in the OR touts the technology that's poised to redefine how you perform surgery.

Rafael Grossmann

Rafael Grossmann, MD


Rafael Grossmann, MD,
Rafael Grossmann, MD, FACS Surgeon, Educator, Healthcare Futurist Bangor, Maine

Rafael Grossmann, MD, FACS, the first doctor ever to use Google Glass to perform surgery — he wore his device while inserting a feeding tube into a patient in the OR and streamed the video live — says virtual reality will soon become an accepted reality in the OR.

A wonderful and engaging speaker, Dr. Grossmann will bring the future of medicine to life at OR Excellence. He says telemedicine, m-health technology and healthcare social media will soon redefine the way in which you deliver health care.

"Mixed reality is a little bit of an abstract concept. You have digital renderings that are not real. You get to see them in the computer and smart-glass screen. Then with augmented reality, you have a visual rendering superimposed into reality through a camera or screen," says Dr. Grossmann. "And then when you mix the two, and you interact with images, you get the concept, the abstraction, of mixed reality."

A self-proclaimed "gadget geek," Dr. Grossmann separates mixed reality into 3 categories:

  • Education. The technology can be used to learn the steps of a procedure. There are platforms such as MedicalRealities, MedicalHolodeck, Animares, ProximieAR, SurgicalTheater and ImmersiveTouch that are breaking ground in teaching the steps of a surgical procedure to surgeons, students and even patients, so that they can get a better understanding of what type of procedure is being done.
  • Diagnostics. The technology is almost to the point where surgeons can take radiological images and make them holographic 3D images floating in the air, right in front of their eyes. And they can interact with those 3D images, which are derived from the same data that the surgeon use from a CAT scan or an MRI.
  • Therapeutic. Although it hasn't been done yet in a manner that is clinically reliable, the technology exists where a surgeon can look at a mixed reality image through glasses or through a screen and can be guided by that image to interact with the physical body of the patient.

"My ultimate responsibility is to be out there evangelizing and preaching to the general public, the medical community, regulators and healthcare administrators," says Dr. Grossmann. "This is becoming real, and the more we talk about it, the more the perceptions are going to change and the more this is going to become an accepted reality."

Dr. Grossmann preaches patience. "It is not easy," he says, "The more disruption, the more obstruction." OSM

  • On June 20, 2013, performed the first surgery ever documented with Google Glass.
  • Full-time practicing surgeon and healthcare futurist who blogs at and is active on Twitter at @ZGJR.
  • Throughout his career, he has focused on tapping the paradoxical power of technology to coexist with better, more humane medical care.
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