man using augmented reality glasses at a medical fair

Tech from Taiwan

Augmented reality is the future of surgery

Physicians have been performing surgery with the assistance of x-ray technology for almost half a century. While this technology has been progressing steadily, its limitations continue to be a major challenge. Thus, many professionals agree: it's time for our method to be changed.

During Medica 2017, the firm Taiwan Main Orthopaedics Biotechnology introduced the first ever smart surgical glasses featuring augmented reality and a navigation system. The demonstrated prototype focused on a trauma case. This year a completely new model for spinal surgery is on show. The company reports accuracy is less than 2 mm.

Surgeons usually perform orthopaedic surgery using a C-arm or another form of X-ray technology, which makes radiation exposure inevitable. ‘Due to high level of toxic radiation both patient, surgeon and medical team can suffer from side effects, such as burnt of soft tissue and skin, or in a worst case scenario it can cause cancer,’ it explains adding that, according to studies, surgeons are the biggest victims, because they perform similar operations at least once a week. ‘But,’ the firm continues ‘the world’s first smart surgical glasses can make big changes. It dramatically reduces the necessity of taking X-rays during operations. Traditionally, in each session approximately 150 X-ray photos are taken, but this new technology lowers this number from 150 to about 20 X-rays. By reducing the number of X-rays taken it can prevent later side effects.

‘But, it’s not just radiation exposure; it also enhances accuracy, saves time and improves overall performance. The most important feature of this new technology is augmented reality technology. Which means, for example, when surgeons put on the glasses and look at their patient they will be able to see through the patient’s body and understand the skeleton structure where they are planning to operate.’

Smart surgical glasses, Foresee-X was FDA-approved at the end of 2017 and, the Thai company predicts, ‘in a near future it will be used in very delicate surgeries with a high level of risk, such as in spine, brain or in other soft tissues.

The smart surgical glasses Foresee-X also enables the surgeon to focus on the operational field instead of on computer screens and monitors, the manufacturer notes, adding that it enhances accuracy by monitoring every movement of the surgical tools, such as puncture needle, trocar etc. Also highlighted is the ability to zoom in and out.

Screening surgical procedures through smart tablets and collecting data for academic purposes is also listed as an asset.


We have submitted all the documents to FDA, CE and are waiting for approval. In the meantime, our R&D team is working to improve the hardware system, because every part and each factor has to be perfect

Min-Liang Wang

Taiwan Main Orthopaedics Biotechnology has now produced Caduceus, the 2nd generation smart surgical glasses. During an earlier interview, Professor Wang Min-Liang said, ‘We have submitted all the documents to FDA, CE and are waiting for approval. In the meantime, our R&D team is working to improve the hardware system, because every part and each factor has to be perfect.’

His firm’s technology is to be adapted for spine, ENT and brain surgeries, with expected FDA and CE approval of the 2nd generation smart glasses by 2019.


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