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Emirati undergoes hologram-assisted knee replacement surgery in Abu Dhabi January 06, 2021

A 61-year-old Emirati’s knee replacement surgery in Abu Dhabi made history recently when surgeons used a hologram lens during the procedure.

The hour-long procedure used advanced augmented reality, and was performed at the Burjeel Medical City in Abu Dhabi. The surgeons told Gulf News afterwards that many more procedures will soon make use of the technology – HoloLens, developed by Microsoft.

“The HoloLens helps improve the chances of a surgery being successful. It allows the surgical team to have ready access to patient scans and surgical plans, yet eliminates the need for additional manpower and equipment. Most importantly, it allows us to share surgical techniques with other experts,” said Dr Rashed Al Shaeel, head of orthopaedics at the hospital.

Knee replacements are common procedures today, but the use of the holograms makes the surgery more accurate. Members of the surgical team can don the headset during the procedure, and quickly check surgical plans about where to make an incision, for instance. The technology – which also has non-medical applications – also enables the surgeons to create three-dimensional holograms that they can interact with using hand gestures or voice commands.

“The accuracy of such a surgery is good, ranging about 90 per cent using the HoloLens. But the technology will be especially helpful when used for challenging cases. We can see the deformity from all angles and minimise tissue dissection, which will accordingly decrease surgical trauma, said Dr Jaber Alkhyel, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital.

He added that one of the major benefits of the HoloLens is being able to share techniques with other experts.

“In the case of a knee replacement, for instance, Middle Eastern patients require full flexion of the joint because they want to sit on the floor during prayers. So we try to get 100 per cent flexion, which requires different techniques than when achieving a lower degree of flexion. We can share these techniques with other experts during the surgery so that they can use the knowledge when working with Middle Eastern patients,” the surgeon said.

The Emirati patient – Humaidah Belgaith – recovered well, and was soon discharged from Burjeel Medical City, owned by VPS Healthcare, with a renewed ability to stand on her own.

“We cannot yet comment on how many procedures will go on to use the HoloLens in the future, but we believe its use will become more widespread,” Dr Alkhyeli said.

“At VPS, we keep abreast of the technology and have been frontrunners in adapting to the innovations in the healthcare industry. We believe adapting to newer technologies is crucial in upskilling our expertise and delivering the best care. The UAE leadership has always been very supportive and keen on adopting emerging technologies, particularly in healthcare,” said John Sunil, chief executive officer at the hospital.

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