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Surgeons at a hospital in Devon have become the first in Britain to use Google Glass in the operating theatre.
The voice-activated glasses, which feature a tiny display above the wearer’s eyes, can record video and live-stream operations via the internet.
In a medical first for the UK, orthopaedic surgeon David Isaac used the high-tech specs during a live operation at Torbay Hospital.
Google Glass has since been used by surgeons across the hospital, including in a variety of orthopaedic procedures and ear, nose and throat operations.
Torbay Hospital says the technology has “huge potential” for medical education, with students in a lecture theatre able to see and hear from the surgeon’s viewpoint.
Mr Isaac said: “Two of the key issues we have had to address whilst using Google Glass in the operating theatre are patient confidentiality and privacy.
“We take these matters very seriously and have been using the past six months as a trial period to address the issues whilst still aiming to get the very best from the potential that this technology has to offer within surgical education.
“We have been investigating the ability to stream and store video to a secure network that can only be accessed by those with the relevant consent, and whilst we can’t currently use Google Glass to connect and stream to the internet, we are just about to start live-streaming to junior doctors and medical students within the Trust.”
Dr George Brighton, core surgical trainee and app inventor at the hospital, managed to acquire a set of Google Glass last November, before their official launch in the UK.
Google Glass enables users to access functions including maps, voice search, video calls and email, calendar and photos hands-free.
“The device itself is effectively a smartphone, head-mounted video camera and computer rolled into one, with an eye-level screen,” Dr Brighton said.
“What’s exciting for medical education is that it allows surgeons to record and share their direct view of the surgical field. This gives huge potential for mentoring and conferencing.
“If, for example, you were performing a rare or complex procedure, you could seek the advice of experts anywhere across the globe whilst operating.
“The device would also enable consultants to mentor junior surgeons through a procedure, extending their hands-on learning. Or procedures could be streamed to lecture theatres full of students, giving them virtually the full field of vision the surgeon sees.”
Before using Google Glass in theatre, surgeons talk to their patients about the project and how footage will be used. They must give their signed consent before any filming.
Surgeons are currently exploring a number of technical challenges, such as how to be explicit about when the camera is filming and when it is switched off.
They are also working out how to upload footage of longer procedures without crashing the computer’s memory.
Source The Mirror