Augmented Reality Technology Gives SMH Spinal Surgeons “X-Ray Vision”

Augmented Reality Technology Gives SMH Spinal Surgeons “X-Ray Vision”

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

SARASOTA, Fla. (Sept. 6, 2023) – What if your surgeon had x-ray vision?

It’s long been the dream for surgeons and now it’s a reality at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, thanks to the new xvision-spine augmented reality surgical navigation system. Created by Augmedics, the xvision system allows orthopedic surgeons to “see” through skin, muscle and even scar tissue—straight to the bone—as they perform delicate operations to correct spinal injury or deformity.

“When you’re wearing those goggles, it’s as if you have x-ray vision,” said Dr. Ngoc Nguyen, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in complex spine surgeries at SMH.

Designed as wearable technology that the surgeon can use while moving freely in the operating room, the xvision system is an easy-to-wear headset with a built-in high-speed processor and a transparent augmented reality display that the surgeon looks through while operating. With a CT scan providing the necessary anatomic data, the xvision headgear can project a fully detailed 3D model of the patient’s spinal structure onto the surgeon’s retina in real time. And using carefully pre-positioned markers on the patient’s spine, the xvision’s built-in tracking system ensures the 3D model perfectly aligns with the patient’s real anatomy. So when the surgeon looks down at the patient in front of them, it’s as if they are looking through tissue directly to bone, and from every angle, without the encumbrance of wires or bulky machinery.

“This 3D-projected image of the vertebra shows you in real time what the anatomy is and takes any uncertainty out of the procedure,” Dr. Nguyen said. “You know exactly where you’re placing every screw.

Before xvision, spine surgeons had to use a series of two-dimensional x-ray images to get an idea of what a patient’s spine looked like as they lay on the operating table. It could be a time-consuming procedure to ensure proper placement. Not so with the xvision headset.

“This technology gives you a live 3D image,” Dr. Nguyen said. “You know exactly the angle that you need and you see it going in.”

For complex spine surgeries, where surgeons have to place screws into the vertebra with pinpoint precision, the technology is a tremendous leap forward, he said.

“The benefits to the patient are huge,” Dr. Nguyen said. “This technology allows for, potentially, 100% accuracy, so I know I’m putting the screws in the right place and I can do it very quickly.”

About Sarasota Memorial Health Care System
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional referral center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of care, with more than 1 million patient visits each year across its 2 hospital campuses, free-standing ER, and network of outpatient care centers. Its flagship 901-bed Sarasota hospital has been consistently recognized as one of the nation’s best, with superior patient outcomes and comprehensive network of outpatient. The public health system opened its second acute-care hospital, SMH-Venice, in November 2021, with 110 beds and full range of specialties to serve the growing south Sarasota County region. For information, visit