Liver iSurgery completed with the help of an iPad medical app

There are hundreds or even thousands of apps invented monthly, and they are all useful in one way or another. It’s amazing how much technology evolved in the last years and in which ways these apps help us in everyday life. As health comes before everything else, I was particularly impressed to read that more and more medical apps are developed. About a week ago, I found out about a German surgeon who completed a liver surgery with the aid of an iPad augmented reality app. This is amazing news because it seems that this kind of app brings hope to reduce complications during operations in the future, and shorten hospital stays. The first version of the app has been tested at the end of 2012 with doctors from Yokohama City University Hospital - Japan. Six months later, on the 15th of August, the app has been successfully tested during a liver operation by a surgical team at the Asklepios Klinik Barmbek in Hamburg. The first of its kind in the history of the medical field, the operation is now referred as “iSurgery”.
“The tablet uses augmented reality, which allows the liver to be filmed with an iPad and overlaid during an operation with virtual 3D models reconstructed from the real organ. Developed by Fraunhofer MEVIS in Bremen, this procedure helps locate critical structures such as tumors and vessels and is expected to improve the quality of transferring pre-operational resection plans into actual surgery, according to Bianka Hofmann from the institute”.

Up to this moment, surgeons have had to know precisely where blood vessels inside the organs are located and where tumors could likely be found in order to be removed. These details were very important to be memorized because, any cut in an inappropriate place puts the patient at risk of severe blood loss and could even lead to disaster. Moreover, if doctors failed to identify precisely the cause of the problem, some of the patients failed to recover.

Apart from locating the tumors and vessels and to reconstruct the real organ with the help of 3D models, this medical app has some other capabilities:

-Simply by marking the touchscreen, the doctor can measure the length of the vessel to be removed and establish if another vessel must be inserted. After the vessel has been removed, it also offers the doctor the option to virtually remove the vessel from the app screen. Thus, the underlying structures can be easier observed.

- Too often, quick decisions must be taken during an operation. If a tumor seems to be larger than at first thought, the app can calculate which part of the organ will no longer be sufficiently supplied with blood, and the surgeon can determine if the remaining organ volume is large enough for the patient to survive.

This surgery shows that the latest technology and development of medical apps such as the one created by Fraunhofer MEVIS (Institute for Medical Image Computing) for iPad, could come in pretty handful and would ease greatly the surgeons work.

I hope you agree that this is an interesting subject worth being developed. I’ll write about some more interesting medical apps and inventions in the medical field with the help of technology soon. How does iDoctor and medical app prescriptions instead of medication sounds? Keep an eye on our blog and you’ll find more about it.  
May 07, 2014