Surgeons use Xbox Kinect to manage images during procedures

The latest advance in video gaming already is starting to have an impact on healthcare. Surgeons at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Canada, are using a new application of Microsoft's Xbox Kinect, a hands-free gaming console, to pull up diagnostic images or adjust their view of such images without touching a computer. The Kinect console enables the physicians to motion with their hands to achieve the desired effect.

This new technology helps the surgeons by eliminating the need for them to leave the sterile zone around a patient when they want to view an image. When they move out of the zone and touch something like a computer, they have to spend up to 20 minutes re-sterilizing themselves before they can resume the operation. While they can ask assistants to retrieve or change the images, communication can be a problem when they want to see a particular detail of an image.

The Kinect OR application was developed by three engineers--Jamie Tremaine, Greg Brigley and Matt Strickland. Strickland, who also is a general surgery resident at the University of Toronto, came up with the idea when he saw how difficult it was for surgeons to view CT or MRI images during procedures. Microsoft had no objection to this use of Kinect, since it has no connection to video games.

The Sunnybrook surgeons have used the Kinect software in half a dozen procedures so far. According to Dr. Calvin Law, a surgical oncologist, Kinect shortens the operations, freeing up time to do more of them. In addition, the surgeons can be more precise in their procedures when they have better control of the images.

To learn more:
- read the story from the Canadian Press