In a fascinating adoption of technology, a surgical team in the UK recently used Apple’s Vision Pro to help with a medical procedure.

It wasn’t a surgeon who donned the headset, but Suvi Verho, the lead scrub nurse (also known as a theater nurse) at the Cromwell Hospital in London. Scrub nurses help surgeons by providing them with all the equipment and support they need to complete an operation – in this case, it was a spinal surgery. 

Verho told The Daily Mail that the Vision Pro used an app made by software developer eXeX to float “superimposed virtual screens in front of [her displaying] vital information”. The report adds that the mixed reality headset was used to help her prepare, keep track of the surgery, and choose which tools to hand to the surgeon. There’s even a photograph of the operation itself in the publication. 

Vision Pro inside surgery room

(Image credit: Cromwell Hospital/The Daily Mail)

Verho sounds like a big fan of the Vision Pro stating, perhaps somewhat hyperbolically, “It eliminates human error… [and] guesswork”. Even so, anything that ensures operations go as smoothly as possible is A-OK in our books.

Syed Aftab, the surgeon who led the procedure, also had several words of praise. He had never worked with Verho before. However, he said the headset turned an unfamiliar scrub nurse “into someone with ten years’ experience” working alongside him.

Mixed reality support

eXeX, as a company, specializes in upgrading hospitals by implementing mixed reality. This isn’t the first time one of their products has been used in an operating room. Last month, American surgeon Dr. Robert Masson used the Vision Pro with eXeX’s app to help him perform a spinal procedure. Again, it doesn’t appear he physically wore the headset, although his assistants did. They used the device to follow procedural guides from inside a sterile environment, something that was previously deemed “impossible.”

Dr. Masson had his own words of praise stating that the combination of the Vision Pro and the eXeX tool enabled an “undistracted workflow” for his team. It’s unknown which software was used. However, if you check the company’s website, it appears both Dr. Masson’s team and Nurse Verho utilized ExperienceX, a mixed reality app giving technicians “a touch-free heads up display” 

Apple's future in medicine

The Vision Pro’s future in medicine won’t just be for spinal surgeries. In a recent blog post, Apple highlighted several other medical apps harnessing visionOS  Medical corporation Stryker created myMako to help doctors plan for their patients’ joint replacement surgeries. For medical students, Cinematic Reality by Siemens Healthineers offers “interactive holograms of the human body”. 

These two and more are available for download off the App Store, although some of the software requires a connection to the developer’s platform to work. You can download if you want to, but keep in mind they're primarily for medical professionals.

If you're looking for a headset with a wider range of usability, check out TechRadar's list of the best VR headsets for 2024.

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