Cardiologists have used Google Glass to unblock a coronary artery in a 49-year-old male. Three-dimensional reconstructions of the artery were loaded onto a custom application and displayed through the augmented reality headset during the procedure, better allowing physicians to guide a catheter to the clogged up area.
Using a catheter to feed a balloon or stent through the blood vessels is one way of treating a clogged coronary artery, a process known as catheter-based percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). But it isn't always successful, with difficulties in imaging the artery one of the drawbacks of the approach.
Improvements have been made in this regard, with the increasing adoption of computed tomography angiography (CTA), an imaging technique that combines a CT scan with angiography, where a contrasting dye is injected into a large blood vessel to visualize the veins. This new method is said to offer physicians a more complete picture than traditional imaging techniques.
Normally, the three-dimensional CTA data sets would be displayed on monitors in a catheterization laboratory, but cardiologists at Poland's Institute of Cardiology have discovered a more convenient way of doing things. The images were instead displayed directly in the physician's field of vision through the Google Glass headset, making it easier for them to visualize the artery and guide the wire through the coronary vessel to the blocked area. The procedure ended with the successful implantation of two drug-eluting stents.
"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," says lead investigator Maksymilian Opolski.
While the CTA images themselves are the same, the team says enlisting the help of Google Glass could have benefits beyond making things more comfortable and cost-effective for cardiologists.
"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 favorably affect interventional cardiologists in their daily clinical activities."
The research was published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.