UAE doctors use Google Glass for surgery advances

DUBAI// Doctors and medical students are turning to Google Glass technology to help improve surgical techniques. The eyewear has a camera and display monitor and allows the user to record and stream video to students and other practitioners.

Surgeons can use voice-activated software to access patient records, X-rays and other important documents during medical procedures. Surgeons said Google Glass technology can be used in assessment of patients and help decrease mortality associated with trauma.

Sreejith Cheriya, 43, a UAE resident from India, visited the urology clinic at Mediclinic City Hospital in Dubai Healthcare City with pain in his left side and blood in his urine. Investigations showed a stone was blocking his left kidney and that he required surgery. Dr Farhad Janahi, a urologist, carried out the surgery using endoscopic instruments and a laser to break-up the stone. Mr Cheriya’s skin was not cut during the operation.

Before the surgery, he used Google Glass for the safety checklist. During the surgery, he used it to view X-rays and CT scans to locate the stone. “It is good to see how we can progress medical techniques by using new technology like this,” Dr Janahi said. “Improving patient safety and developing procedures are very important. “Google Glass can give me a voice-enabled checklist that I can see. As soon as I say the patient’s name, the information is there. You can add as much information as you need – date of birth, which side the kidney is being operated on for example – and it is all activated by voice command. “Before, I would have to leave the room to check this information. Now it is there at a glance.”

Up to six slides can be added to the device that would be useful to view during surgery. As it can record video, the doctor can ask for a second opinion on complications that may arise. Mr Cheriya, 43, an audiovisual technician at Dubai Health Care City, was the first patient operated on by a surgeon wearing Google Glass at Mediclinic City Hospital.

“Dr Janahi said he would be using the device during my surgery and showed me how it worked. It was impressive and made me feel comfortable that he was trying new things to ensure it was a success.” Further applications are being developed by mobile phone provider Etisalat to give the technology a wider public appeal in sports and fitness. Etisalat’s connected glasses are a wearable computer that wakes up when the wearer glances down and turns off again when she looks away. The device was on show at Gitex, the annual technology conference in Dubai, this week. It can record video of activity such as cycling, running or sailing and show data such as a compass and GPS location to help navigate. The display shows speed, distance travelled and personal records so it can be used to encourage a healthy lifestyle.