When the surgeon’s scalpel drew a red line on the patient’s abdomen, a group of medical students leaned toward their screens two blocks away. The procedure was a simple hernia operation, but the surgical team members were unusually upbeat as they turned to look at the latest gadget in the operation theatre — the ‘Google Glass’ worn by their chief. As the medical fraternity in the West debates the usefulness of the newest device produced by Google, doctors in India have joined the chorus with bouquets and brickbats,even as this surgeon in Chennai became the first in India to live-stream a surgery using Google Glass. On Tuesday, Lifeline Hospitals livestreamed an upper gastro-intestinal laparoscopy on a 45-year-old man and a hernia repair on a 42-year-old woman to medical students two blocks away using Google Glass.
“It felt like I was glancing at my rear view mirror while driving. I was focusing on the surgeries and talking to my students at the same time. At one point, I stopped feeling it was an external device,” said Dr J S Rajkumar, Chief Surgeon at Lifeline. Google Glass is a wearable computer that has a frame similar to traditional eyeglasses. It follows voice commands to take photos and videos that show the viewpoint of the user. The surgeries were
livestreamed on ‘Google Hangout’ as well. Doctors say the gadget is yet another step forward in throwing open the doors of the live operation theatre to students and interns. “People need to know what is happening behind those doors.This is one more gadget towards that end.
Students can see the surgical procedures through their seniors’ eyes, quite literally.This is a phenomenal urgical tool,” avers Dr Rajkumar, adding however, “We did face some practical glitches like problems with Wi-Fi and the battery dying early.” Although the gadget is still to hit the market, Google has distributed some 2,000 of the gizmos
earlier this year for testing before its release to the general public. Besides being an educational tool, doctors say the technology could be used to view X-rays, MRI images and other medical information as they conduct surgeries.