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Exploring the Present: An Analysis of the Current Extended Reality Landscape in Surgery

In recent years, we have witnessed a pivotal moment in the evolution of Extended Reality (XR) technology, catalyzed by significant advancements in hardware and a notable reduction in cost. This convergence of innovation and accessibility has unlocked a multitude of opportunities across various industries, with healthcare emerging as a prominent frontier for XR applications. With hardware becoming more affordable and capable than ever before, we find ourselves at the cusp of a new era in healthcare, where XR technologies are poised to revolutionize medical practices and patient care.  Specifically, within the realm of ortho, spine, and neurosurgery, Surgical Theater is at the forefront of this revolution, bringing XR technology to the operating room and changing the way physicians prepare and perform surgery and connect with their patients.  

Surgical Theater’s eXperiential Reality (XR) technology is the only extended reality platform that reaches the entire continuum of care from preoperative planning and patient education to intraoperative and postoperative care.  Utilizing Surgical Theater’s PlanXR platform, an immersive patient-specific reconstruction is generated from medical images such as MRI and CT scans and is used to customize a surgical plan.  Physicians use XR to simulate the elements of a procedure such as the approach, implant selection, and resection boundaries prior to ever scrubbing into the operating room. Patients and Surgeons can then use XR devices to streamline communication about their medical pathologies and treatment opportunities in a collaborative, immersive space using ConveyXR. Lastly, SyncAR Cranial and SyncAR Spine both synchronize the reconstructed anatomical models with the patient’s anatomy during surgery, providing guidance to the surgeon throughout the procedure. From intake to discharge, Surgical Theater’s technology provides comprehensive XR tools to improve patient care.

 

Beyond Surgical Theater, three additional companies – Medivis, Augmedics, and Brainlab – are utilizing extended reality in their surgical procedures.

Medivis has introduced SurgicalAR, a mixed reality platform aimed at using augmented reality to visualize anatomical structures during surgery.  With SurgicalAR, 3D holographic image is overlayed onto the patient’s anatomy, offering surgeons guidance during procedures. With SurgicalAR, surgeons can visualize anatomical structures contributing to navigation and decision-making in the operating room.

In addition, Augmedics, has entered the market with their product, Xvision. This spine-focused platform utilizes mixed reality technology to offer an intraoperative virtual overlay onto the patient’s anatomy offering guidance during the surgical navigation process. 

Another player in the ecosystem of extended reality is Brainlab, which has introduced an augmented reality platform for cranial based procedures.  Brainlabs’s Microscope Navigation System involves digitally overlaying the planned surgical target and surrounding structures as semi-transparent objects onto the real patient anatomy. These visualizations provide anatomical insight and spatial orientation during the procedure.

As XR solutions become more accessible, the competitive landscape in surgery will continue to undergo significant transformation.  Companies are racing to develop cutting-edge platforms that offer immersive experiences to enhance surgical planning, navigation, patient education, and training. With Surgical Theater leading this charge by offering solutions throughout the pre, intra, and post-operative surgical spaces, the industry is driving innovation and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in surgery. As technologies continue to evolve and gain widespread adoption, we can expect to see a paradigm shift in surgery, where XR solutions are seen as integral tools (not toys) for improving surgical precision, patient outcomes, and overall quality of care. 

Exploring the Present: An Analysis of the Current Extended Reality Landscape in Surgery

In recent years, we have witnessed a pivotal moment in the evolution of Extended Reality (XR) technology, catalyzed by significant…

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