augmented reality to aid surgeryAugmented reality has been a hot topic this year. Most of the emphasis at present seems to be in the consumer and entertainment area. However, the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany is experimenting with using augmented reality technology to aid in the surgical removal of cancerous lymph nodes.

Cancers often spread first to the lymphatic system. Removing effected lymph tissue is critical for slowing the course of the disease. Normally, affected tissue is discovered by employing radioactive marker material. But of course, exposing patients to radiation doses in any form has its drawbacks.

The Fraunhofer technology uses a type of dye that fluoresces under infrared light. The dye is injected into effected lymph nodes, illuminated via infrared light, and viewed through a headset that maps the location of the dye to what the surgeon is seeing as he/she attempts to excise the tissue.

Could this technique be coupled with surgery robots to perform surgeries autonomously?

(photo via Fraunhofer)