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The Art of Surgery – How can Technology Help

Consider a Venn diagram of Doctors and Artists. Many of us know people in both groups, but how often do we meet people in both? They are unusual and as a result we have plenty of reconstructive surgeons that lack an understanding of art. There are technologies that can help to give doctors and surgeons an opportunity to be artists, before, during and after a surgery.

In my role as a Business Unit Director for Nypro, I look for the next big opportunity in technology. In this augmented age, the intersection of multiple technologies has promoted a massive leap in the abilities of users. I wanted to explore how we might use all this inspiring technology to give doctors a chance to be even better than their best?

For our example let’s consider facial reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. In both cases, ratios and balance are key, much like in a work of art. And sure, there are computer programs today that help a patient and doctor plan the surgery, but that can be different to when scalpel meets skin and things start to shift. This is where we want to focus by looking at the technology we can use to help keep patient outcome in line with expectations.

Step one is planning. It is said, garbage in equals garbage out, and while that is a little harsh when discussing facial surgery, it all starts with a scan, and not just of the surface. The doctor is going to be cutting or injecting veins, nerves, etc.; what if the whole plan is thrown off because a vein or a nerve needs to be worked around? Starting with a deep level scan can help the doctor and the patient see exactly what is where.

Step two is execution. While we have all seen TV shows where a doctor uses the marker to draw lines and other signifiers on the patient, what happens when those lines move post cut? How can we track progress against the original plan? Fortunately, RF cameras can assist to make sure we are getting the intended result. As you may have seen, Apple’s new iPhone X uses similar technology to map your face as security. This is the same concept, making sure that the plan is mapped ahead of time and the outcome is tracked accordingly. But again, that is just the surface, and a doctor may not want to be looking at a screen the whole time. Technology again comes to our aid with projectors. In conjunction with Wii-like motion sense, the projected vein map, in real time by the way, shows the doctor where cutting can continue. All of this happens without the surgeon having to look away from the patient.

Step three is after care. With the goal to look natural, it is crucial that much of the work adheres to the ratio of the Fibonacci Sequence. Many studies have shown our eye catches unnatural breaks when the Fibonacci Sequence is pushed beyond its limits. And much artists placing their final touches on a masterpiece, our doctor would again run a deep scan on the patient and level off any needed areas with injections or fillers, delivering the precise execution to the plan.

These technologies exist today and the capabilities of such interactions are underway. What industries do you think need technology to push them to the next level? How would you use RF and standard cameras to revolutionize a process or outcome? Not just blue sky thinking, but Blue Sky execution.

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