Mixed Reality at Stroke Patients’ Bedsides

Surgery in progress
The connected operating room is one of the big promises of 5G, as its throughput and latency will help telesurgery to advance by bringing doctors from other hospitals right into the theater. The start-up Intradys, based in Brest, is working toward this goal. Its solution, which combines mixed reality and artificial intelligence, makes it possible to bring a team of specialists together remotely around a patient. This technology would save valuable minutes when treating strokes.

“It was as if the surgeons were side by side, as they could talk to each other and point to the same things in the patient’s images.”

It was a world first. In November 2020, a surgeon from Brest operated on a stroke patient using mixed reality glasses, and a colleague from Rennes watched over and helped him from a computer workspace in his own hospital. Both doctors had live access to the same neuroradiological images, as well as a 3D representation of the arteries. “This technology really changes the way colleagues can communicate,” enthuses Gwenaël Guillard, the promising young Breton who is CEO of Intradys and developed this solution, which he called Lumys. “It is impressive to see how a connection is formed between two individuals who can not only speak to each other as if they were side by side, but also point to the same things in the patient’s images.”

Remote Assistance That Will Save Lives

This is not about virtual reality; it’s about mixed reality. In virtual reality, a headset isolates the user from real life. With these mixed reality glasses, virtual elements, such as photographs or 3D representations, are superimposed onto the reality of the operating room but they do not replace it. “Seeing in 3D gives the on-site doctor a more in-depth understanding, but more importantly, it allows the remote doctor to share that understanding, so they have the same data to discuss. This is nothing like a phone conversation,” says Guillard. The doctor is able to see and hear the room, their patients and their colleagues perfectly, and thanks to Lumys, they can also communicate remotely with another professional. That is the main purpose of this technology. For complex operations following strokes, the remote support of a more experienced medical professional can be life-saving.

Strokes are one of the main causes of death in France. Each year, 150,000 people suffer strokes, and 30,000 of them die. Treating patients is a real race against time; the faster the treatment, the less severe the consequences will be. “Operations to treat strokes take place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are always emergencies. Every immediate connection with a specialist is valuable. You can’t wait one or two days for a colleague to come back or for someone to make the journey,” explains Guillard. Lumys could also be used in medical schools or to make it easier for representatives of equipment manufacturers to train doctors.

5G: Bringing AI into the Equation

In order to integrate AI into his solution, Guillard carries out tests at the Orange 5G Lab in Rennes. The ultimate aim of the Lumys headset is to bring decision-making support to the heart of operating rooms, without the need for a monitor or computer. Everything will happen through the headset, with patient data being analyzed in real time by a cloud-based AI. “With this in mind, 5G is a way of transferring very large volumes of data without delays, while ensuring data security and prioritization,” explains Guillard.

The entrepreneur anticipates that we will see a hyperconnected operating room in the near future: “All procedures there will be optimized by harnessing all the data that circulates hospitals. The operating room will also be externally connected to other hospitals, for example large university hospitals could be connected to more local hospitals. Thanks to solutions like Lumys, complex operations will be able to be carried out remotely with the support of university hospitals.”

5G has already played a major role in the COVID-19 pandemic. Cast your mind back to January 2020 when images of a hospital being built in 10 days in Wuhan, China took the world aback. But one thing went unnoticed ⁠— the makeshift facility was fully 5G connected! 5G connectivity helped to process the huge volume of communication in this area far from the city center, and allowed for an advanced remote consultation system to be implemented, giving Beijing-based experts the opportunity to discuss treatment protocols with their colleagues in Wuhan. And this is clearly just the beginning.

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