An orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) recently conducted the first augmented reality (AR) total knee replacement surgery in the US opening up new doors of opportunity for the technology in the medical industry. The operation was completed using Vuzix Blade Smart Glasses of the Vuzix Corporation, a supplier of smart glasses and AR technology and products.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had given a go-ahead to the augmented reality knee replacement platform from Medacta, known as NextAR TKA, earlier in July this year. Along with the augmented reality glasses, it requires a preoperative CT scan of the patient’s knee for surgical planning.
The platform enables the surgeon to shift the focus away from a computer screen towards a visualization of the knee through the Vuzix Blade Smart Glasses and follow progress directly on the operative field in real-time.
Jonathan Vigdorchik, MD, the orthopedic surgeon who conducted the surgery at HSS, said, “It’s like a car that has the speedometer projected on the windshield, so you don’t have to look down when you’re driving.”
Comparing the AR knee replacement platform to GPS, he added, “Everyone knows how to drive home, but you use GPS technology to find the best and most efficient route to take.”
“Over the past few years, we’ve learned that optimal balancing of the knee ligaments results in a joint replacement that feels more natural and lowers the risk of instability,” said Dr. Vigdorchik as he explained how the enhanced visualization would enable them to ensure a precise alignment and positioning of the knee implant.
“Every person’s knee is different in terms of their ligaments. Some ligaments are tighter, some are looser. The platform provides direct tracking of the collateral ligaments and a 3D analysis of soft tissue throughout the whole range of motion during surgery, and this allows for optimal ligament balancing for each patient,” he further explained.
Dr. Vigdorchik believes that the healthcare system could reap a huge magnitude of economic benefits because of the streamlined nature of the system.
He remarked, “The high level of precision of the AR platform could decrease operating time and translate into greater efficiency. This is particularly advantageous in the current healthcare environment, as surgeons and hospitals may still be catching up on elective knee replacements that were deferred during the pandemic lockdown.”
Talking about his company’s contribution in the surgery, Paul Travers, Vuzix President, and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Vuzix Smart Glasses continue to be leveraged across healthcare to aid in the delivery of the next generation of clinical care such as surgeries that leverage augmented reality smart glasses, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.”
“It’s a significant milestone for the augmented reality smart glasses industry and Vuzix is thrilled to be part of another industry first in healthcare,” he further added.
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