How Surgery Technology Will Shape the Future
From surgical robots to virtual reality, the future of surgery technology is bright. Surgery requires extremely delicate movements, and even the slightest miscalculation could be dangerous or even deadly to patients. However, advancements in surgical technology can help minimize that risk.
As an example, surgeons can make accurate hand movements within five microns (about 1 ten-thousandth of an inch) using optical coherence tomography (an ultrasound-like technology that uses light) for intricate surgeries – allowing for minimally invasive surgical procedures that are safer and reduce recovery time for patients.
New surgical technology is allowing doctors to increase efficiency and safety, by guiding their movements and offering unprecedented access to information in the operating room.
While many worry about a day when technology will replace humans altogether, modern technology in surgery is meant to work with surgeons to enhance their skills. With access to more real-time information and high-tech equipment, surgeons can operate with more dexterity and greater precision than ever before.
Here are just a few of the exciting advancements in surgical technology.
Robotic assistance in the operating room is nothing new. The most well-known surgical robot, da Vinci Surgical Systems, is almost 20 years old. Since its creation in 1999, nearly 700,000 robotic-assisted surgeries have taken place every year.
Of course, surgical technology does not stay the same long term. New robotic surgery assistants are smarter and more capable than ever. Instead of the large, fixed-armed da Vinci, new robots have flexible robotic arms that can move in ways the human hand can’t.
The Ion robotic system, for example, was developed in 2019 and designed to help with ultra-sensitive deep lung biopsies. It’s equipped with standard surgical tools such as forceps and needles, but what makes this robot special is that its tools are inside tiny catheters.
The catheters can be maneuvered into the patient’s body with minimal impact to surrounding tissue. Once it reaches the intended location, the catheter locks in to provide unmatched stabilization for the procedure.
The tools extend from the catheter, allowing the surgeon to operate with much more accuracy and precision in a tight space than if they were performing the operation by hand.
Artificial Intelligence Assisted Surgeries
In addition to their highly advanced physical capabilities, many surgical robots are now equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning capabilities.
These AI-capable robots can analyze massive amounts of data in real-time and provide surgeons with detailed information to help them make difficult decisions such as the best places to make incisions or the most effective areas for stem cell injections.
They’ll also be able to react to changing situations in the operating room using algorithms based on medical data and trends.
To illustrate, an AI-enabled robot specifically designed for orthopedic surgery uses data from thousands of previous procedures to help guide the surgeon’s hand during operations and inform them of new, more effective techniques. According to a study of 379 orthopedic surgeons, using AI-assisted robots reduced surgical complications by 500%.
3D Printing Capabilities
3D printing is one of the most exciting surgery advances. Many surgeons are already using it to make surgery safer and more efficient for patients. There are a wide range of applications associated with 3D printing, including:
- Customized surgical tools for complex procedures
- Customized prosthetics
- Living tissue and organs
3D printing can be used as a training tool. Surgeons can print exact replicas of the human body to hone their skills. If they come across a particularly tricky or unique procedure, 3D printing allows them to practice beforehand to anticipate issues and determine the best course of action.
Surgeons will also be able to 3D print living organs for transplants. There have already been several successful organ printing experiments, including hearts, lungs, kidneys, corneas, ears, and skin.
While 3D printed organs are still in clinical trials, this surgical advancement will revolutionize health care and eliminate the need to wait for organ donors.
Augmented and virtual reality have already made their way into operating rooms across the world. Surgeons are using augmented reality (AR) glasses to view real-time information, while operating on patients.
This provides surgeons a heads-up display, showing patient vitals and other essential information to help them through the surgery without forcing them to take their eyes off the task at hand.
Surgeons can also use augmented reality to view three-dimensional images of organs and tumors, so they can get a better idea of what they need to do. Augmented reality provides surgeons with access to more information to help them do their jobs safely and efficiently.
The difference between augmented and virtual reality (VR) is that augmented reality alters the existing world, while virtual reality creates an entirely new one. By putting on the goggles, surgeons are transported to a virtual world without patients or risk.
Like 3D printing, surgeons are using virtual reality to practice surgeries beforehand, anticipate problems, and identify the most effective course of action for the procedure.
Medical students are also using virtual reality for training purposes. It allows them to perform even the most complex and rare surgeries without risk. According to a 2019 survey, surgeons who trained using a VR platform boosted their performance by 230%. They also completed procedures 20% faster than surgeons who didn’t use VR.
Remote surgery is the culmination of all the modern surgical advances rolled into one. Using high-speed connectivity, surgeons can use VR and advanced computer terminals to control surgical robots and perform procedures from anywhere in the world.
This technology will give patients in remote areas access to the best doctors and specialists in the world without needing to travel.
In the era of COVID-19, computer-assisted remote surgeries are on the rise. This technology allows doctors to perform procedures on patients without risking infection. Remote surgery can let doctors perform non-emergency procedures that were pushed back because of the pandemic and get patients the healthcare they need.
Of course, in order for surgeons to remotely see what they’re doing, they need a high-quality camera system.
Surgery isn’t a one-person job. It takes an entire team of healthcare professionals working together. But when one surgeon is operating on a patient, it’s difficult for the team to see what’s happening.
Head-mounted cameras are helping surgical teams collaborate more efficiently. When the surgeon wears a camera-enabled headlight, a video feed from their point of view is sent directly to a video monitor, recording device, and / or live streamed to another location. Healthcare experts from around the world can see exactly what the surgeon sees to offer advice or make comments in real-time.
Once the procedure is over, the video can be saved for future viewing. Not only will the footage be helpful for audits, but it can also be used for medical education training purposes. Medical students can watch the videos to see exactly how the procedure was performed from the surgeon’s perspective.
To ensure surgical teams have the best information possible, it’s important to use quality equipment. The Pharos HD™ is one of the most powerful headlight/camera combos available. It can illuminate a surgeon’s workspace with adjustable LED lights while recording high-definition video simultaneously.
Surgeons Need High Quality Surgical Camera Solutions to Ensure Successful Patient Outcomes
Technology is quickly reshaping operating rooms around the world. It gives surgeons the information and skills they need to perform faster, more minimally invasive procedures and provide better care for their patients.
In order for surgeons to do their job properly, they need to be able to see what they’re doing and train others effectively. At BFW, we understand that need. For 50 years, we have produced innovative head-mounted LED headlights, surgical cameras and camera systems ideal for even the most intricate surgical procedures, as well as compact storage and charging stations that can be wall mounted to declutter your OR.
Contact the experts at BFW today to learn how our advanced products can significantly reduce costs and improve surgical outcomes long term.
Join the future of surgery with the right technology.