GMA News Online

UK surgeons use Kinect for delicate procedures

June 5, 2012 7:55pm
Kinect, Microsoft's motion-activated gaming accessory, is increasingly finding more use in the medical field, according to researchers and surgeons in the United Kingdom.
The technology lets surgeons at King's College London and Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust view, control and manipulate images without need for physical contact.
"This technology is very exciting as it allows me to easily and precisely control the imaging I need during operations. Touchless interaction means there is no compromise in the sterility of the operating field or in patient safety," said Tom Carrell, senior lecturer at King's College London and a vascular surgeon.
Jointly developed by Microsoft Research and Lancaster University, the software for the imaging surgery system helps surgeons during complex aneurysm procedures.
A computer program takes a 3D image of a patient’s anatomy, and produces 2D images that look like x-rays from different view directions.
Kinect technology allows the surgeon to operate the imaging system themselves, rather than instructing an assistant to do so.
The King's College London noted surgeons operate in a challenging environment where they are required to maintain sterility at all times.
"Re-scrubbing is time consuming and therefore surgeons are frequently compelled to instruct others to manipulate visual-aid equipment for them; an often impractical and imprecise method," it said.
But with the new gesture-based system using Kinect for Windows hardware and the Kinect for Windows Software Development Kit (SDK), the vascular surgery team can "maintain a sterile environment while being able to view and manipulate medical images with a combination of gesture and voice control."
For now, the system is under trial on vascular patients at St Thomas’ Hospital, and may expand to the manipulation of 3D volumetric models of the brain for neurosurgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
"The ultimate aim is to develop a touchless interaction in surgery toolkit that can be used in any hospital or system interested in applying touchless interaction to their imaging system," it said.
Dr. Mark Rouncefield from Lancaster University said this is a "lovely example of a successful interdisciplinary research project, combining the technical skills of computer scientists with a social scientific and medical expertise that ensures the new technology resonates with the way in which surgeons actually do their work." — TJD, GMA News
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