Johns Hopkins researchers have found that an augmented reality overlay system used with magnetic resonance imaging can accurately guide a needle for joint arthrography, the injection of contrast material to determine ligament and cartilage injury.
For the study, published in Radiology, a research team performed 45 arthrography procedures (23 shoulders, 22 hips) on 12 human cadavers using an augmented reality prototype and a 1.5-tesla MR scanner and version 3.6 of the 3D Slicer software, reports Aunt Minnie.
"Image overlay technology combines joint injection and MR imaging into a single procedure, thereby avoiding a more complex scheduling process, possible exposure to ionizing radiation, and the need for an additional co-located modality," the authors wrote. "The availability of image overlay navigation allows performance of procedures at outpatient imaging centers without access to a fluoroscopy unit and can obviate CT guidance for joint injections."
Though joint injection and MRI guidance alone can be used as a single procedure, it usually must be done inside the magnet bore. This team used two operators to test the use of augmented reality along with MRI guidance outside the bore. It found that procedure effective for all injections and no statistical difference between the two operators.
The average arthrography time was 14 minutes, with a rage of six to 27 minutes. Needle adjustment was required in six (13 percent) of the procedures.
Google's prototype glasses represent perhaps the most widely known example of augmented reality, which superimposes information on a still or moving image, as this IT Business Edge post explains. It's among the latest functions in a new range of embedded health-monitoring gadgets--a market expected to grow to 170 million devices by 2017. One surgeon sees potential uses in the OR.
Meanwhile, an augmented reality unit developed by the European Space Agency offers 3D guidance for diagnosing problems or performing operations using a head-mounted display. That system holds promise for use in telehealth as well as a tool for emergency responders.