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Augmented Reality Used in Knee-Replacement Surgery in a U.S. First

The Wall Street Journal reports HSS hip and knee surgeon Jonathan M. Vigdorchik, MD, was the first surgeon in the U.S. to complete augmented reality(AR)-assisted knee replacement surgeries last month, for two patients with severe arthritis in their knee joints.

AR superimposes digital content, such as 3-D images or visual instructions, onto a user’s view of the real world through mobile devices and wearable headsets. Increasingly, health-care providers have been expanding their use of AR for procedures that require extreme precision. In knee surgery, the technology gives a surgeon the ability to see and follow operating plans projected onto the lens of smart glasses, allowing for more precise removal of bone and cartilage and more accurate positioning of a knee implant.

“At many time points during the operation it’s actually providing me information, making sure that my cuts are degree for degree, millimeter for millimeter, accurate,” explained Dr. Vigdorchik. “The better a knee-replacement fits, the better the odds for an operation’s long-term success,” he added.

In the weeks leading to the procedures, Dr. Vigdorchik took computer tomography knee scans of the patients and loaded them into AR cloud-based platform, which created 3-D models of the knees. The 3-D models are used for preoperative planning, such as deciding how much damaged bone and cartilage to remove and determining the optimal placement for an implant based on each patient’s particular anatomy. At the start of each procedure, Dr. Vigdorchik put on a pair of augmented reality glasses. The lens of the see-through glasses include a digital display that let him view the patient’s knee and the surgical planning parameters that helped him accurately position the implants. The display screen inside the glasses can show a 3-D model of the leg with a diagram of planned cuts.

Dr. Vigdorchik said he believes augmented reality will allow for better procedures, leading to quick recoveries and better functioning of knee implants.

Read the full article at WSJ.com.

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