UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


Augmented reality could improve risk avoidance during surgery

A computer vision algorithm can improve surgeon’s vision during keyhole cancer surgery


10 October 2018

A computer vision algorithm that accentuates motion could be applied to a wide range of surgeries. The algorithm, developed at the Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences (WEISS)  by Mr Mirek Janatka and Prof Danail Stoyanov and clinical colleagues Dr Ashwin Shridhar and Prof John Kelly, compares differences between video frames. It then exaggerates these differences and creates a new, motion magnified video that amplified motion in order to highlight subtle changes due to blood flow.
One procedure where it can be applied is laparoscopic surgery to remove prostate cancer where nearby vascular structures need to be preserved and not accidentally punctured. It can sometimes be difficult to ensure that vessels are avoided while dissecting tissue especially when fatty tissue occludes them. The computer vision algorithm accentuates the motion caused by the expansion and contraction of blood vessels, allowing surgeons to visually discern that this has been done adequately. The technology can potentially be used in other laparoscopic, microscopic and robotic surgeries for example in kidney cancer treatment or in neurosurgery.

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