Orthopaedic Surgeons at University of Arizona Medical Center Utilize Google Glass

Surgeons Jordan Smith, MD, and Jason Wild, MD, of the University of Arizona Department of Orthopaedic Surgery were selected to be part of the Google Glass Explorer Program and have been using the technology on select patients since receiving them this past December.

Google awarded 10,000 applicants a pair of these hands-free, wearable computers as part of its product beta testing. As members of an academic medical center, Drs. Smith and Wild thought this opportunity a natural fit for collecting data for research as well as helping educate the next generation of surgeons.

“By just winking, the Glass captures an image of whatever you’re looking at during surgery,” Dr. Wild explains. “We’ve tried using other kinds of cameras, but they require touch control which can be a contamination risk. Glass allows us to capture angles otherwise impossible, to help educate our residents.”

Not every orthopaedic surgical case necessitates use of the Google Glass. To date, the surgeons have used the glasses during 25 cases—generally the more complex cases. “The benefit is being able to take a picture of something either rare or hard to describe to residents,” Dr. Wild said.

It also obviates the need for surgeons to look away from the surgical field at X-rays, as surgeons can simply take a picture of the X-rays with the Glass, and have that image superimposed in their direct line of sight. As the technology moves past the Explorer phase and further software is developed, surgeons will be able to collaborate or broadcast what they are seeing in the OR to colleagues, and give students a real-time look at surgical procedures.

The patient’s x-ray appears right in the surgeon’s line of sight, through Google Glass.Almost complete is the set-up of a secure, Wifi network dedicated to the Google Glass at UAMC-University Campus, so surgeons in the OR can live stream procedures to colleagues or medical students on the secure network. “Right now, this is primarily for educational purposes,” Dr. Wild said. “But we’re proud and excited to integrate this cutting-edge technology into daily use.”

The team also was recently awarded a grant through the Arizona Telemedicine Program to begin using the Google Glass to obtain surgeon-perspective video of orthopaedic surgical procedures for use in instructional videos and training presentations.

The orthopaedic surgery department is the first to use the technology routinely at University of Arizona Medical Center. Students at UA College of Medicine – Phoenix are using Google Glass to look at how the technology may be helpful for first responders to communicate with trauma physicians, and surgeons with the Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA) as well as the Trauma Center also are  trying out the technology.

About the University of Arizona Health Network
UAHN is Arizona's premier academic medical network. It includes the University of Arizona Medical Center - University Campus, UAMC - South Campus, Diamond Children's, the UA Cancer Center - North Campus and Orange Grove Campus, dozens of clinics, the University of Arizona Health Plans and the University of Arizona Physicians – which is the practice plan for faculty physicians of the UA College of Medicine. UAMC - University Campus operates Southern Arizona’s only Level 1 Trauma Center. The hospital has been nationally recognized for providing exceptional patient care, teaching new health-care professionals and conducting groundbreaking research through physician-scientists across multiple disciplines. It is consistently listed among the nation’s top hospitals in U.S. News & World Report’s prestigious “Best Hospitals” rankings. For appointments or further information, please visit uahealth.com.