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IU Surgeon One Of First To Use Google Glass During Operation

A woman models a Google Glass prototype.

A surgeon at IU Health is among the first in the country to use Google Glass as an aide during surgery. Two weeks ago, Dr. Paul Szotek, a trauma surgeon at IU Methodist Hospital, became the first in Indiana to use the wearable mini computer and camera to help during an operation.

Szotek specializes in hernia repair and abdominal wall reconstruction, and he successfully removed a rare type of tumor from the midsection of Brian Hume, 45, from Avon.

Google Glass looks like a pair of eyeglasses without lenses. The tiny camera can capture both still and moving images, while the cube can project a “picture-in-a-picture” screen in the upper right corner of the user‘s field of vision. Szotek says it was not a distraction, even during delicate surgery.

“The beauty of it is that it‘s almost like driving a car. It‘s like having your rear-view mirror there. You look up, see what‘s in your rear-view mirror, then look back down,” Szotek said.

Szotek says Google Glass saved timed during the surgery, which could mean a savings in money if they gain in popularity.

“We were able to visualize the location of the tumor through the MRI, which was directly in my visual field, versus the traditional way of looking at CT scans on the wall of the operating room,” Szotek said. “It‘s probably a more efficient way for overall operative time and the time that a patient is under anesthesia.”

Szotek is one of about a dozen doctors across the country selected by Google for the Google Glass experiments, and he believes it is part of the future of delivering medical care. He thinks it could eventually be combined with tracers that could help surgeons to better distinguish tumors from healthy tissue and allow for a more precise and complete removal.

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