The facial skull is anatomically very complex, due to multiple important anatomical structures and cavities located in an area with very limited space. This makes maxillofacial surgery highly challenging. Computer-aided methods aim on making such surgical interventions more precise and safer, for example, by using patient-specific virtual planning, or intra-operative surgical navigation. However, mapping between computer-generated information, displayed on 2D monitors, and the real anatomical situation within the patient is still mentally very challenging for the surgeon. In this context, augmented reality (AR) can aid by merging 3D virtual medical data directly with the patient in the physical space, for example, through 3D smart glasses, smartphones or tablets. In this interdisciplinary project between computer science and medicine, we develop and investigate an AR tool for surgical visualization and navigation in maxillofacial surgery, to make trauma surgeries more precise, safer, and faster, while keeping the mental demand for the surgeon low.
The project builds upon the predecessor project “enFaced” from 2018, during which the need for such an AR tool has been identified. Now, we will further develop our first prototypes and bring them to most recent hardware, such as the AR smart glass HoloLens 2. In a close collaboration with surgeons who perform maxillofacial trauma surgery on a daily basis, the advantages and disadvantages of our AR tool will be evaluated in detail, and it’s usability in a real clinical setting will be scientifically assessed. This interdisciplinary research project will be carried out by the Graz University of Technology in cooperation with the Medical University of Graz and in close collaboration with the Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (IKIM) at the Essen University Hospital (UKE).
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