Touch Surgery brings surgery training to augmented reality

Training surgeons on specific surgical procedures is expensive and hard. London-based Touch Surgery has created more than 200 training programs for surgical procedures to be completed on a mobile phone or tablet. At CES, it announces support for a new type of deeply immersive surgery training — and potentially assistance in an operating room — on DAQRI and HoloLens.

“We believe in working with surgeons to optimize and scale best in class surgical procedures to enable training and delivery of safer surgery for patients globally,” Touch Surgery’s CEO Dr Jean Nehme told me. “To date our output has been through mobile devices, primarily for training. For 2017 we have enabled our pipeline to deliver to augmented reality platforms.”

The company is teasing its augmented reality content for the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week.

touch-surgery-movemetThe real opportunity is to move Touch Surgery’s training content from the relatively sterile scenario of being able to tap and swipe your way through a surgery simulation on a phone, to bringing it into the operating room. It’s easy to imagine how a surgeon about to pick up a scalpel and a dozen other sharp instruments might want to have a live overlay of the surgery they are about to commence.

It all sounds a little bit futuristic, but I remain to be convinced about a surgeon wearing a hololens while doing a surgery. On the one hand, perhaps it reduces the number of mistakes made in complex procedures, but on the other, perhaps it is a little unsettling to think that there’s a chance that your surgeon might not quite know what they’re doing. Also, given the GIF looping to the right of this article, I’m starting to have some serious doubts about my use of the “on the one hand” idiom.

It’s still early days for augmented reality for use in operating theaters, but if it makes surgeries safer, quicker, or with fewer complications, it’s hard to argue against its potential usefulness. Bring on the HoloLenses, I say.