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Singapore NUHS Embarks on Holo-medicine Research Using Mixed Reality Technology

To be able to literally see inside a patient’s skull and identify the location of the tumour deep in the brain, right on the operating table, may become a reality with the help of a Mixed Reality (MR) headset. The National University Health System (NUHS) has embarked on a research and development programme within the academic healthcare cluster to explore the use of MR technology in clinical care.

The research programme aims to support the development of next-generation clinical applications and improve patient safety. This would augment clinical processes and enhance both undergraduate and postgraduate education. While the use of holographic technology in operating theatres is still nascent, NUHS hopes to apply it in multiple fields of surgery.

Holographic technology may radically transform the way doctors practice medicine. Early adoption will place NUHS at the forefront of medical MR research and position the hospital as a pioneer in the clinical use of this technology,

NUHS’s Group Chief Technology Officer

While holo-medicine is new in the field of medicine, it has become increasingly prominent in the past year. The technology leverages the concept of MR not only to augment the physical environment but permits interaction with virtual objects superimposed onto the real world. The virtual objects can also be manipulated relative to the real world using natural hand gestures.

Potential of Holographic Technology in Brain Surgery

A team of neurosurgeons at the National University Hospital (NUH) has initiated a study to assess the feasibility of using holographic technology to spatially locate brain tumours when operating on patients. Using holographic visors, a three-dimensional (3D) hologram of a patient’s brain scan is projected into space and superimposed onto the patient’s head during surgery.

This hologram is generated from the patient’s own brain CT scan using a 3D medical software created by apoQlar, called Virtual Surgery Intelligence (VSI). When the hologram is set in place on a patient’s head, surgeons are able to view the 3D holographic images of the brain from different angles. They can also pull up information and alter the images in the visor by gesture and speech recognition, allowing them to interact with, and control the holographic image that is superimposed onto the patient.

With this holographic technology, surgeons can see inside the brain. They will be able to see the blood vessels and most importantly identify the tumour quickly and precisely, as well as to know which angle and the exact location to make the incision.

For over thirty years now, they have been using a handheld navigation system to navigate and identify the location of the tumour. In comparison, this new mixed reality system is more intuitive as they can now see inside the patient’s head without the need to look up and refer to a computer screen while performing a procedure. With the potential of higher precision and quicker localisation, patient care and safety can be improved.

Clinical validation studies and trials will be necessary prior to the adoption of this holo-medicine solution as a primary clinical method. This involves comparing MR technology to current gold standards of clinical practice and outcomes measured, including data on accuracy, stability, and potential risks and limitations of this capability. Registration with the necessary governing bodies including the Health Science Authority (HSA) will also be needed before this solution can be used in a direct patient intervention role.

Singaporean researchers have been developing a variety of technologies in the healthcare sector, As reported by OpenGov Asia, Singaporean students decided to create a mobile app related to healthcare that can have a huge impact on society.

What began as a student project became an innovative productivity tool that was actually used by doctors in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Initially, the team assumed that their mobile app was meant simply as a school project, but the team did such a great job with it that it was actually implemented by doctors in the Neonatal ICU.

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