First use of Google Glass during surgery

August 31, 2013 in Medical Technology

Dr. Christopher Kaeding, director of sports medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre, used the technology to work with a distant colleague using a live, point-of-view video from his operating room via the wearable interactive technology, augmented by a head-mounted computer and camera device.

Only a thousand people in the United States have been chosen to test Google Glass as part of the company’s Explorer Programme: Dr. Ismail Nabeel, an assistant professor of general internal medicine at Ohio State applied and was chosen.

He then partnered with Kaeding to perform this groundbreaking surgery and to help test technology that could change the way we see medicine in the future.

“To be honest, once we got into the surgery, I often forgot the device was there. It just seemed very intuitive and fit seamlessly,” he said of his experience.

“We’re very excited about the opportunities this device could provide for education,” claimed Dr. Clay Marsh, chief innovation officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre. “It could be a game-changer for the doctor during surgery.”

During the procedure, Kaeding carried out anterior cruciate ligament surgery on a 47 year old female patient who had hurt her knee playing softball. As he performed the operation on the east side of the city of Columbus, Google Glass shared his point of view – via the Internet – to audiences miles away, including one of his colleagues, Dr. Robert Magnussen, in his own office, while on the main campus several students watched his progress on their laptops.

In the words of one of those students, Ryan Blackwell, a second-year medical student, “To have the opportunity to be a medical student and share in this technology is really exciting.

“This could have huge implications, not only from the medical education perspective,” thinks Blackwell, as doctors could use this technology remotely to “spread patient care all over the world in places that we don’t have it already.”

Needs to be evaluated in different situations

Experts have theorized that during surgery doctors could use voice commands and Google Glass in combo to instantly call up x-ray or MRI images of their patient, pathology reports or reference materials, among other benefits. “Not only might you be able to call up any kind of information you need or to get the help you need, but it’s the ability to do it immediately that’s so exciting,” thinks Marsh.

But “like many technologies,” he cautioned, Google Glass needs to be evaluated in different situations to find out where the greatest value is and how it can impact the lives of our patients in a “positive way.” 

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