Dr. John Shin spearheads Mass General's AR spine surgery program

Practice Management

Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston has implemented augmented reality technology in its operating rooms to assist surgeons performing spine procedures.

John Shin, MD, Kingdon-Saylor endowed chair in spine neurosurgery and director of spinal deformity and oncology surgery, spearheaded the introduction of the technology at the hospital.

When using AR, surgeons wear a headset that provides computer-generated images of CT scans into their eyepieces displaying information superimposed over the patient's anatomy in real time. The technology allows surgeons to accurately navigate instruments and implants while looking at the patient instead of a screen. 

"When performing spine surgery, we are typically working within millimeters of critical structures such as the spinal cord, nerves and blood vessels," Dr. Shin said in a Nov. 12 news release. "Whether for minimally invasive or complex reconstruction surgeries, the stakes are extremely high. This technology not only helps us plan and perform these surgeries, but also helps ensure accuracy while minimizing surgical risks and complications."

Mass General is incorporating the AR technology into its residency and fellowship programs, which is "critical to driving innovation in our field and training future leaders in spine surgery," Dr. Shin said.

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