Operating with Google Glass


Performing Surgery using Google Glass- Dr Derek Ochiai, Nirschl Orthopaedic Institute, Virginia, United States


A Sports Medicine Orthopaedic Surgeon’s Perspective:

I have been a Google Glass Explorer since January 2014. Once you get Glass, the setup is a bit time consuming. Fortunately, Google has a really good customer service department, and I was good to go. Glass requires a WiFi hook-up to allow for internet searches and downloading pictures/video, so it is almost a requirement that your cell phone has a personal WiFi hotspot enabled.

After the technical issues, I started to use Glass while in clinic. I do a fair amount of teaching, and it is really convenient for me to video short clips of physical examination techniques, for my teaching files. This allows me to video without having another person in the room, and it allows the viewer to see parts of the exam from the examiner’s perspective. Here is a link for a hip Anterior Impingement test through Google Glass

Make sure you get the patient’s consent for ANY photography/video that you use Google Glass for, just like you were using a camera or smart phone! I have also started to use Google Glass in the operating room. For some procedures, the perspective that you gain from video through Glass is superior to having a videographer film from a distance. For the limited times I have done this, I have not found it distracting.


Figure 1: Google Glass point of view of a Nirschl tennis elbow procedure. I have also used Google Glass while at conferences. I can take pictures of a slide on a screen quickly and discreetly, and later use this in the notes that I take from the lectures I attend.

Finally, Google Glass has been a way of connecting in a different way to my patients. Most of the time, they are very interested in this technology, and it is a way of engaging them as a conversation starter. Questions I’ve heard are Is it videotaping this conversation? Answer: No, that would completely burn my battery and memory! Do you have X-ray vision with it? Answer: Sadly, no. You’ll still need to get regular X-rays! Can you take a selfie with it? Answer: Yes, but you need a mirror.

2Figure 2: Selfie with Google Glass. It’s been a lot of fun being a Google Glass Explorer. I know that the applications for this technology will be expanding. Syncing Glass with an electronic medical records system, using the search features to look up real time side effect profiles of obscure medications, split screen arthroscopic live lectures with real time point of view surgical video, and even real time surgical “Skype” type consultations all could be facilitated with this technology. As long as we stick to the mantra “Patients are Paramount”, any use of technology to improve the care that we give to patients and improving our knowledge to the benefit of that care is worth a look!

Derek Ochiai, MD is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon, specializing in Hip Arthroscopy and Sports Medicine. He practices in Arlington, VA at the Nirschl Orthopaedic Clinic (www.NIRSCHL.com). Follow him on Twitter @DrDerekOchiai. Dr Ochiai is one among the first in the world to use Google glass for an Orthopaedic Operation. The surgery was live transmitted to surgeons all over the globe.

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