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Hololens being adopted as visualization aid for spinal surgery

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Matt Smith/Digital Trends

Microsoft Hololens may still only be in its developmental stage of life, but that doesn’t mean it’s not having an impact. In the case of one orthopaedic surgeon in Santa Catarina, Brazil, it’s helping him perform life-altering spinal surgery in a safe and affordable manner.

Spinal surgery is, to say the least, complicated and delicate surgery, which is why 3D scans of a patient’s spine are often taken and visualized — in this case, so that the┬áDr. Henrique Lampert could select the perfect position for screws designed to fuse vertebrae together. However the imaging of such a model is difficult, because intra-operative CT scanning isn’t cheap and is only available in a few locations.

Warning: Contains graphics video of spinal surgery:

Hololens however is entirely portable and, at $3,000 per headset, is much more affordable than other medical alternatives. So that’s what Dr. Lampert and his development partner, Dr Gobatto (thanks Reality.News) used, and by all accounts, it works very well as an alternative.

Of course there are reasons that the Hololens is far cheaper. Currently its rendering power and level of detail aren’t perfect, with both doctors hoping that future versions will allow for greater resolution renders to be visualized within its augmented reality view. Surprising though, the doctors reportedly love the limited field of view currently offered by the Hololens, as it left traditional monitors unobstructed by digital elements.

They did say however that the headsets could do with additional processing power, so that the frame rate doesn’t suffer so much when complex 3D models are loaded into the augmented view.

Moving forward, the doctors will be authoring a medical article to evaluate just how effective the technique is compared to more traditional medical hardware, and what kind of difference it can make to patients. They also hope to create a new course for surgeons to help them learn how best to use holographic technology in the operating theater.