New Technology Helps Improve Doctors’ Precision

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CANADA  --  New technology at a Canadian hospital is helping surgeons' precision.

The McGill University Health Centre is the only hospital in North America with this technology, and as NBC's Dan Spector reports, doctors doctors say it will make surgeries safer.

"So this is something we call augmented reality and it's something that's really new in our field, and this is actually the first unit in North America that's able to do that," said Dr. Marc Tewfik.

With this technology, surgeons like Tewfik can create a roadmap that allows for better precision than ever.

Chantay Rose was injured in a skiing accident, and suffered a fracture under her eyelid, a broken nose, and a torn tear duct. She has had operations to repair the fractures, but now needs surgery to fix the torn tear duct. In order to get access, doctors need to go in through her sinus--something that is never simple.

"We're always close to a lot of important structures when we're navigating the sinuses. We have the eyes which are right next to it. We have the floor of the brain right on top of it. We have very large vessels, the internal carotid arteries in the back, in the optic nerves in the back," said Tewfik.

But now, Doctor Tewfik can perform what's called target guided surgery. When going up the patient's sinus, doctors can watch on a screen right in front on them. The technology overlays virtual squares and circles that represent the path through that specific patient, because they're based on actual 3D scans of the patient's head. This way, the doctors know exactly where to go and how to get there.

A small mistake in a sinus surgery can lead to serious consequences like permanent double vision. Doctor Tewfik says this new technology makes surgeries safer.

"This will give us an extra safety to identify the patient's anatomy and make sure we're staying away from those danger zones. And able to do the surgery safely and completely."

The new tool can also be used for educational purposes.

Doctors at the hospital have performed only about a dozen surgeries like this, but expect the number to grow.