Augmented reality technology holds great potential for plastic surgery
Augmented reality (AR) technology can help plastic surgeons significantly improve the accuracy, safety, and speed of their procedures, a recent systematic analysis has found.
However, the literature surrounding these frontier technologies remains thin, especially with regard to virtual reality (VR), as well as their corresponding cost-benefit evaluations.
Searching through the online databases of Embase, Medline, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and Cochrane, the researchers found six articles where procedures were AR-assisted. They found no articles on VR, nor were there any eligible articles about the costs of AR. Those which employed no preoperative planning, were not about plastic surgery, and did not report outcomes pertinent to the present review were excluded.
Bony reconstruction procedures performed with AR assistance had significantly better accuracy than conventional methods. Studies included in the present review showed that this was particularly true for mandibular angle and intraoral mandible distraction osteotomies.
Similarly, using AR with synostotic plagiocephaly and orbital hypertelorism correction led to a precise osteotomy, as well as to a more accurate identification of intraoperative perforator in deep inferior epigastric perforator flap procedures.
In addition, one study that looked at complications in AR-assisted plastic surgery found that rates of flap revisions and losses, infections, and abdominal dehiscence were not different between test and control groups.
“Future studies on AR and VR technology for plastic or reconstructive surgical procedures should be comparative studies and not focus solely on the technical accuracy of the procedure and the operative time but should also include clinical outcomes, including complications and cost-effectiveness,” the researchers said.