Google Glass in the OR


Google Glass can perform some pretty neat parlor tricks. You can, for example, beam a baseball game’s data directly into your field of vision or use the Glass to take a more accurate reading of your dining companion’s emotional state after you arrive a half hour late for dinner.

In health care, though, doctors are already finding potentially game-changing uses for the technology.

At UCSF, cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Pierre Theodore has begun a pilot program using the Glass to assist in surgery.

For the uninitiated, Google Glass is essentially a computer display, camera and touchpad (among other things) built into eyewear. Theodore uses it to view a patient’s X-rays while performing surgery.

His first Glass-assisted surgery, last month, was a surgery relieving an entrapped lung, a procedure in which fluid is videoscopically removed from a deflated lung. The fluid pockets can be difficult to see with the human eye alone, forcing a surgeon to rely on X-rays for guidance, glancing back and forth between the patient and a computer screen or sometimes even running back and forth between the OR and radiology.

With the Glass, X-ray information was instead displayed directly in Theodore’s field of vision while he operated.

“Imagine the difference between the GPS on your dashboard guiding you as you drive and stopping to take a map out of your glove compartment. You’ve completely shifted your attention away from the road,” he said. “Imagery is really important to plan the surgical procedure.”

The Glass, he said, allows the surgeon to easily view critical information.

Already Theodore has done three surgeries assisted by it, with plans to do many more. And he imagines uses for others in the ER, for example anesthesiologists, who could keep an eye on essential data from patient monitors whatever they are doing in the OR.

Others, including doctors at Stanford, have experimented with using it as a medical teaching tool, live streaming video from patient interactions back to students. (See the embedded videofrom Stanford above.)

Theodore said his enthusiasm thus far for the potential of the Glass in surgery is “unbridled.”

“I think it holds incredible promise,” he said.

Using Google Glass in the OR | Chron Rx Health Blog | an blog.

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