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Archive Hot Technology 2017

Welcome to Surgery's Inflection Point

Today's technological advancements are transforming surgical care.

Jonathan Kanevsky, MD


augmented reality headsets HEADS UP Augmented reality headsets let surgical team members review clinical data without taking their eyes off the patient.

It's time to prepare for the fourth industrial revolution, when the line between digital technologies and the physical world becomes less obvious. Intelligent machines will make better predictions and diagnoses, and recognize patterns in clinical data that'll improve patient care. Cutting-edge imaging technology will let surgeons view anatomy in ways they never thought possible and help guide their instruments as they make safer and more effective cuts. We're truly on the cusp of incredible technological breakthroughs that promise to blow away your expectations of what can be accomplished in the OR. Here are a few eye-opening developments that hint at the promise of what's to come.

Machine learning. Massive amounts of clinical data are being produced on a daily basis and researchers are sifting through the information, looking for patterns that unlock the secrets to improved patient care. Venture capitalists are investing huge amounts of money in Big Data, because there have been interesting developments over the past few years in the way data science is changing healthcare practice. Although there aren't yet many products that let the average surgical facility harness the power of data, tapping into clinical information to improve surgical outcomes is a development you need to monitor.

Imaging platforms are becoming capable of "seeing" what's happening during surgery through computer algorithms connected to laparoscopic and arthroscopic cameras, a development that has significant clinical implications. Semi-intelligent computer systems that have been trained on hundreds of thousands of hours of surgical video can recognize specific steps of surgery, identify potential complications and warn surgeons when they approach challenging parts of a procedure. The "smart" systems can also automate dictation by generating op notes as a surgery progresses.

Augmented and virtual reality. These flashy technologies are futuristic in concept and are still in the very early stages of adoption. As their hardware and software continue to develop, they have the potential to enhance patient care by augmenting a surgeon's abilities through training stimulators, surgical planning and intraoperative consultation. Surgeons wearing augmented reality headsets can send point-of-view live feeds of the operative site to outside experts anywhere in the world for real-time advice. Surgical team members who wear augmented reality headsets can also pull up patient records or pre-op images in a hand-free environment without averting their gaze from the sterile field.

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