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Doctors use virtual reality device to treat blocked coronary artery

Washington: A group of cardiologists has successfully used a virtual reality (VR) device to guide the opening up (revascularization) of a chronically blocked right coronary artery. Their report is published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

These are CTA images displayed in Google Glass. (A) Cardiologist viewing the CTA images in the upper right visual field on Google Glass (arrow) during a CTO recanalization attempt. (B, C) Three-dimensional reconstructions projected directly onto the Google Glass screen reveal the exact trajectory of the distal right coronary artery (RCA, arrows). CTA, computed tomography angiography; CTO, chronic total occlusion; RCA, right coronary artery. (Image: Canadian Journal of Cardiology)
These are CTA images displayed in Google Glass. (A) Cardiologist viewing the CTA images in the upper right visual field on Google Glass (arrow) during a CTO recanalization attempt. (B, C) Three-dimensional reconstructions projected directly onto the Google Glass screen reveal the exact trajectory of the distal right coronary artery (RCA, arrows). CTA, computed tomography angiography; CTO, chronic total occlusion; RCA, right coronary artery. (Image: Canadian Journal of Cardiology)

Cardiologists from the Institute of Cardiology, Warsaw, Poland were able to successfully restore blood flow in the occluded right coronary artery of a 49-year-old male patient assisted by CTA (computed tomography angiography) projections in a wearable VR device based on Google Glass, with an optical head-mounted display.

The display of three-dimensional computed tomographic reconstructions in a mobile application equipped with a hands-free voice recognition system and a zoom function, developed specifically for this purpose by a team of physicists from the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling of the University of Warsaw, enabled the physician-operators to clearly visualize the distal coronary vessel and verify the direction of the guide wire advancement relative to the course of the blocked vessel segment. The procedure was completed successfully with implantation of two drug-eluting stents.

“This case demonstrates the novel application of wearable devices for display of CTA data sets in the catheterization laboratory that can be used for better planning and guidance of interventional procedures, and provides proof of concept that wearable devices can improve operator comfort and procedure efficiency in interventional cardiology,” explained lead investigator Maksymilian P Opolski of the Department of Interventional Cardiology and Angiology at the Institute of Cardiology, Warsaw, Poland.

The device used, Google Glass, consists of a wearable, hands-free computer with an optical head-mounted display worn by interventional cardiologists in the catheterization laboratory. The optical head-mounted display can display and capture images and videos while interacting with the surrounding environment. This display is an example of the concept of VR in which the user is supplemented with additional information generated by the device.

Dr Opolski said, “Mobile technology is easily accessible and offers an incremental opportunity to expand the existing open platform for mobile applications, which might in turn overcome the economic and capacity limitations of advanced angiography systems with dedicated monitors for projection of CTA data sets.”

“Furthermore, wearable devices might be potentially equipped with filter lenses that provide protection against X-radiation. We believe wearable computers have a great potential to optimize percutaneous revascularization, and thus favourably affect interventional cardiologists in their daily clinical activities,” added Dr Opolski.

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