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  • OPT Group

Clinical applications of augmented reality in orthopaedic surgery: a comprehensive narrative review


Purpose: The development of augmented reality (AR) technology allows orthopaedic surgeons to incorporate and visualize surgical data, assisting the execution of both routine and complex surgical operations. Uniquely, AR technology allows a surgeon to view the surgical field and superimpose peri-operative imaging, anatomical landmarks, navigation guidance, and more, all in one view without the need for conjugate gaze between multiple screens. The aim of this literature review was to introduce the fundamental requirements for an augmented reality system and to assess the current applications, outcomes, and potential limitations to this technology.

Methods: A literature search was performed using MEDLINE and Embase databases, by two independent reviewers, who then collaboratively synthesized and collated the results of the literature search into a narrative review focused on the applications of augmented reality in major orthopaedic sub-specialties.

Results: Current technology requires that pre-operative patient data be acquired, and AR-compatible models constructed. Intra-operatively, to produce manipulatable virtual images into the user's view in real time, four major components are required including a camera, computer image processing technology, tracking tools, and an output screen. The user is provided with a heads-up display, which is a transparent display, enabling the user to look at both their natural view and the computer-generated images. Currently, high-quality evidence for clinical implementation of AR technology in the orthopaedic surgery operating room is lacking; however, growing in vitro literature highlights a multitude of potential applications, including increasing operative accuracy, improved biomechanical angular and alignment parameters, and potentially reduced operative time.

Conclusion: While the application of AR systems in surgery is currently in its infancy, we anticipate rapid and widespread implementation of this technology in various orthopaedic sub-specialties.

Keywords: Arthroplasty; Augmented reality; Computer vision; Efficiency; Navigation; Technology.

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