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27 Mar 2024

Cromwell Hospital Leads UK Surgery with Pioneering Use of Apple Vision Pro

Cromwell Hospital has become the first hospital in the UK and Europe to use the Apple Vision Pro – a spatial computing device – as a surgical logistics and organisational tool during two spinal surgeries earlier this month.

The medical team, lead by surgeons Mr Fady Sedra and Mr Syed Aftab from the Complex Spine group at the London hospital, strapped on the $3,500 Apple Vision Pro to carry out two microsurgical spine procedures. They used the VR goggles during both preparations for the surgeries and the procedures themselves, with the tool imposing virtual screens on the operating room to help select tools and monitor progress.

The software, introduced to the hospital by a leading AI and spatial computing company, eXeX, gives wearers holographic and touch-free access to the surgical setup, procedural guide, alongside data and visualisation that has been previously been unavailable with such ease within the operating theatre.

Partnering with eXeX, the hospital first introduced the cutting-edge technology to the hospital’s operating theatres in 2023. This was designed to optimise surgical procedures, such as equipment setup, inventory control and resource allocation optimisation.

“Working with eXeX to use the Apple Vision Pro has made a huge difference to the way we deliver care to our patients,” said consultant orthopaedic spinal surgeon, Mr Syed Aftab, one of the Cromwell surgeons who used the device.

“The software is seamless and has improved efficiency within the Complex Spine team. It’s a real privilege to be the first team in the UK and Europe to use this software within surgery, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this technology advances and the impact it can have across hospitals in the UK.”

Kate Bovell, Chief Operating Officer at Cromwell Hospital, said: “At Cromwell Hospital, we are committed to innovation and improving how healthcare is delivered to benefit all patients, whether it is through harnessing robotic or AI technology, or using the latest, evidence-based approaches to deliver care. eXeX stands at the forefront of surgical technological advancements, and its philosophy for patient outcomes is inspiring. We are delighted to be working with them.”

While the Apple Vision Pro is new to the operating theatre, VR and AR headsets have been used by physicians for years, to train students, collaborate remotely and directly aid surgery. Notable examples include in 2017, when the Royal Free London Hospital in partnership with Proximie leveraged AR to allow remote experts to offer advice and instructions to surgeons conducting an operation. That same idea, paired with robotics, allowed surgeons from the UK and Seattle to collaborate on a complex surgery in 2020.

The surgeries completed by Mr Sedra and Aftab using the Apple Vision Pro serve as a testament to the eXeX software platform, which is currently deployed via headsets such as the Microsoft HoloLens. The successful proof of concept with the Apple Vision Pro is part of the company's ongoing commitment to develop hardware-agnostic solutions and will explore its ongoing use. It represents one of many ways that AR headsets are being used in medicine, be it for training, logistics or surgery itself.

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