Doctors at a Toronto hospital are banking on video game technology to save time and prevent contamination in the operating room.
A team at Sunnybrook Hospital has started using the Xbox Kinect, a hands-free gaming console equipped with a motion sensor, to virtually manipulate key medical images during surgery. The doctors use hand gestures to zoom in and out of the images or freeze a particular shot without leaving the operating table.
Surgeons typically have to leave the sterile field around the patient to pull up images such as MRI or CT scans on a nearby computer.
They then have to go through a meticulous cleanup before returning to the area to make sure they don’t bring in any bacteria that could harm the patient.
It can take up to 20 minutes to clean up each time a doctor consults an image, said Dr. Calvin Law, who helped integrate the technology into the operating room.
Those interruptions sometimes cause more than an hour’s delay over the course of a surgery, said Law, a surgical oncologist with the hospital’s gastrointestinal cancer team.
“It all adds up,” he said. By eliminating those delays, the hospital could save enough time to operate on more patients, he said.
What’s more, it would help surgeons stay focused and decrease the risk of contamination by keeping everyone within the sterile field, he said.
Surgeons can ask assistants outside the field to adjust images, but that’s “always a little troublesome because of communication,” Law said.