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Doctor completes liver surgery with aid of iPad augmented reality app

A German doctor surgeon has leveraged the power of Apple's iPad and an accompanying augmented reality app to assist him in the completion of a surgery, marking one of the first times a procedure has been performed in such a manner.

Using an iPad, surgeons in Bremen, Germany, were able to create a virtual 3D pre-op plan for one patient's procedure, reports Reuters. [Warning: Some graphic images.] The surgeons took a picture of the patient's liver with the iPad's camera. The app then constructs an augmented reality overlay of the liver, showing the physicians where essential structures such as tumors and blood vessels lie.

The augmented reality overlay is built off of scans of the organ that were performed prior to the surgery. Having the actual layout of the organ visible before beginning allows surgeons to avoid potential complications and could result in more efficient operations.

The team behind the app sees it potentially having further applications beyond just the liver. It could also be used to help in excising tumors from the pancreas and other organs.

While this is one of the first times an iPad has played such a role in the actual process of a surgery, Apple's popular tablets and smartphones have become quite popular among doctors. Apple devices are the top choice among physicians, and those doctors are continually finding ways to integrate them into their daily practices.