At the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, researchers have been investigating the use of the Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality headset for visualizing myocardial scars during surgical interventions.
During ablations and other electrophysiology procedures, the surgeon must have a good idea of where scars and other relevant items are within the heart. Typically, this is displayed on a computer screen and keyboards, mice, knobs, joysticks, and balls are used to control the zoom, rotation, and slicing of the images. All of these methods require the physician to look away from the patient and to use a physical controller to interact with the display, creating issues with maintenance of sterility.
The cardiac images displayed within the HoloLens provide a high resolution representation of the heart and the mapped scar, and the wearer can use hand gestures to tell the system how to display the image.
In a study with animals that were induced to suffer heart attacks, the system was used by a cardiac mapping specialist and operator to look at the hearts during a simulated intervention. The clinicians that performed the procedures reported that they found the technology useful, particularly having a true 3D representation of the heart and scar, and that everything was hands-free.
“Augmented reality allows physicians to superimpose images, such as MRI or CT scans, as a guide during therapeutic intervention,” said Jihye Jang, a PhD Candidate at the Cardiac Magnetic Resonance (MR) Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “Our report shows exciting potential that having this complex 3D scar information through augmented reality during the intervention may help guide treatment and ultimately improve patient care. Physicians can now use AR to view 3D cardiac MR information with a touchless interaction in sterile environment.”