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Augmented Reality (AR) Technology for Surgical Operations.

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Augmented Reality (AR) technology, which fuses physical reality with holographic images, is gradually making its way into surgical operations. Pioneered by tech giants such as Microsoft with its HoloLens 2 AR headset, AR's application in surgical procedures is still relatively nascent. Still, the technology's potential for revolutionizing surgical practices is starting to be recognized.

Medivis, a New York-based startup leading the charge in this emerging field, has just secured a Series A funding round of $20 million, led by the venture capital firm Thrive Capital. Thrive Capital, under the leadership of Joshua Kushner, has a history of supporting groundbreaking technological innovations and is taking a keen interest in the potential of AR in the medical industry.

Medivis leverages advanced AR technology to superimpose medical imaging such as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), and CT (Computed Tomography) scans onto a patient's physical body. This gives the surgeons a unique "X-ray vision" into the patient's anatomy, as described by co-founder Osamah Choudhry, who also serves as a neurosurgeon at NYU Langone Health. The system has already received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019 for use in surgical planning, and Medivis is now seeking approval to utilize the system during live surgeries.

The startup, founded in 2016 by Choudhry and radiologist Christopher Morley, aims to overcome the limitation of two-dimensional imaging in surgeries, which currently require surgeons to construct a mental 3D map for surgical planning and navigation. Medivis's AR system, however, allows surgeons to overlay a three-dimensional medical image directly onto the patient, enhancing the precision of complex procedures, and reducing the level of uncertainty, according to company President Morley.

Kareem Zaki, a general partner at Thrive, noted that software advances, including AR technology, are transforming the surgical landscape with new levels of precision. However, the adoption of these technologies is often slow due to the need for extensive regulatory clearances and supportive research. Thrive's investment underscores their belief in the promise of AR in improving patient safety and outcomes and their vision of software playing a transformative role in the healthcare industry.

An early adopter of Medivis's system, Providence Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle, has seen its practical applications. Dr. Stephen Monteith, the institute's director of cerebrovascular neurosurgery, has used the system for planning brain-tumor removal procedures, providing surgeons with a clear view of the distance between brain tissue and blood vessels, and helping in the formulation of more effective surgical plans. This hands-on experience substantiates Medivis's claim that their AR system can significantly improve surgical outcomes.

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