Video game technology helps Toronto doctors

Who said surgery isn’t a game?

KinectDoctors at a Toronto hospital are relying on video game technology created by Microsoft to save time and prevent contamination in the operating room.

The Xbox Kinect, which is essentially a games console with a motion sensor, has been put to good use (although not the one it is originaly intended for) by a team at Sunnybrook Hospital to enable surgeons to virtually manipulate CT and MRI scans. Engineers working in close relationship with the doctors have helped adapting the device to surgery procedures.

Using hand gestures, doctors are able to zoom in, out or even freeze images  (Minority Report style) without having to leave the operating table.

Under normal circumstances surgeons are often forced to leave patients in the operating room in order to check CT or MRI scans on a nearby computer.

Although this may sound like a quick, simple process, it may take up to 20 minutes for a surgeon to return each time they leave the operating table as they have go through a thorough cleanup procedure in order to make sure not to bring back any bacteria with them that may harm the patient.

If repeated, those interruptions can cause substantial delays (as much as an hour) and increase the risk of contamination.

By reducing delays, surgeons could operate on more patients and reduce any risks of contamination. Using the Kinect technology would also help surgeons remain focused and would give them better control over the images, which could lead to better overall results as surgeons would be able to operate with more precision.

So far the device has been used six times and Sunnybrook appears to be the only hospital to have adopted the new working methods. Nevertheless doctors say they are looking to use the device more extensively in future.



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