I chanced upon this piece of innovation from a post by Dr. Peng Hui LEE at PACSGroup (kudos to Dr. Lee)
Surgeons at Sunnybrook hospital are employing video-game technology to scroll through medical images during operations, using nothing more than hand gestures resembling tai chi.
An engineering team used a Microsoft Xbox Kinect, a hands-free gaming console, to allow doctors to quickly access MRIs and CT scans without leaving the sterile field around the patient.
“What this was able to do is take away that last barrier and remove the mouse, remove the interface . . . and now I just give it hand signs,” said Dr. Calvin Law, a surgical oncologist. “We’re able to control the computer without actually touching anything.”
In commercials, the Xbox Kinect compels people to breakdance, jog and ski jump in the middle of their living rooms and offices. Users rely on simple voice and motion commands, such as a simulated slam-dunk, to play the hands-free games.
During surgery, digital images act as a surgeon’s GPS, helping them navigate a patient’s body. But to maintain the sterile field, they cannot physically touch the imaging computer’s keyboard and mouse. Scrubbing in and out to access the computer safely can add as much as two hours to an operation.
“You’re always concerned to a degree that every time you move away from the operating table, every time you have to go to another area, you always put your sterility at risk a little bit,” Law says. “There’s nothing like minimizing the risk to absolutely as low as possible.”
Some surgeons use headsets and voice recognition software or rely on an assistant to flip through the images at their command.
As a first-year surgical resident at the University of Toronto, Matt Strickland, also an electrical engineer, was that assistant. “He’d often be the guy that goes back 20 frames, forward a frame,” says Jamie Tremaine, a mechatronics engineer.
Tremaine and Strickland, cross-country skiing pals who studied engineering at the University of Waterloo, started chatting about the Xbox Kinect last fall and realized it might help solve a problem surgeons face daily.
The system is made up of the Kinect, which has a depth camera to capture 3D images, as well as two computers and custom hardware designed by computer engineer Greg Brigley, another University of Waterloo grad.
It identifies the user, figures out their pose and gestures, and translates those movements into commands. By moving their hands back and forth at various speeds, doctors can scroll through as many as 4,000 images to find the ones they need.
“That computer that had so much information but was kept separate now becomes integrated right in front of you,” Law says.