Combining Augmented Reality and 3D Printing to Improve Surgical Workflows in Orthopedic Oncology: Smartphone Application and Clinical Evaluation

Sensors (Basel). 2021 Feb 15;21(4):1370. doi: 10.3390/s21041370.


During the last decade, orthopedic oncology has experienced the benefits of computerized medical imaging to reduce human dependency, improving accuracy and clinical outcomes. However, traditional surgical navigation systems do not always adapt properly to this kind of interventions. Augmented reality (AR) and three-dimensional (3D) printing are technologies lately introduced in the surgical environment with promising results. Here we present an innovative solution combining 3D printing and AR in orthopedic oncological surgery. A new surgical workflow is proposed, including 3D printed models and a novel AR-based smartphone application (app). This app can display the patient’s anatomy and the tumor’s location. A 3D-printed reference marker, designed to fit in a unique position of the affected bone tissue, enables automatic registration. The system has been evaluated in terms of visualization accuracy and usability during the whole surgical workflow. Experiments on six realistic phantoms provided a visualization error below 3 mm. The AR system was tested in two clinical cases during surgical planning, patient communication, and surgical intervention. These results and the positive feedback obtained from surgeons and patients suggest that the combination of AR and 3D printing can improve efficacy, accuracy, and patients’ experience.

PMID:33672053 | PMC:PMC7919470 | DOI:10.3390/s21041370

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