Surgeons use Kinect tech during aneurysm procedures

Kinect is enabling surgeons in London to view and manipulate medical images via gesture and voice control.

Microsoft's Kinect has in recent years spawned hundreds of side hack projects. This week, a group of researchers and surgeons out of London is piloting a project developed alongside Microsoft Research to enable touchless viewing and manipulation of images while performing vascular surgery.

A surgeon demonstrates the touchless manipulation of images during surgery. King's College London

During complex aneurysm procedures, a computer program takes a 3D image of a patient's anatomy and produces several 2D images taken from different angles. The Kinect tech then enables surgeons to operate those images using gesture and voice alone.

The benefits are two-fold: surgeons can more easily maintain a sterile environment when they don't have to manipulate equipment, and they rely less on assistants to manipulate the visual-aid equipment for them, which can result in miscommunication and errors.

"This technology is very exciting as it allows me to easily and precisely control the imaging I need during operations," Tom Carrell, senior lecturer at King's College London and a vascular surgeon, said in a news release. "Touchless interaction means there is no compromise in the sterility of the operating field or in patient safety."

The collaborative effort between King's College London, Lancaster University, and Microsoft Research is now being tested on vascular patients at St. Thomas' Hospital.

Researchers say they hope the Kinect approach will soon be used during neurosurgery at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. Ultimately they hope to see the touchless interaction in use in any hospital setting where hands-free manipulation of images is useful.