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As a long-standing educator in my field of plastic surgery, as soon as I heard about Google Glass, I knew immediately that this innovation could have incredible applications within surgery. So, when my college aged son Michael, applied and became one of only a couple thousand Google Glass “Explorers” to receive the device, I grasped the opportunity to try them in surgery. With proper consent by the patient, I chose to do a procedure about which I have published and lectured: a “Pinch Blepharoplasty” (otherwise known as an cosmetic eyelid lift). Yesterday, from my office operatory in Burlingame, I successfully live-streamed the surgery to residents at both UCSF and Stanford.
The medical benefits of this technology are myriad: it breaks down the cost and logistical barriers to real-time transmission of surgery, which can assist students and fellow surgeons anywhere in the world. Beyond this core utility, with the proper software, the surgeon could, with its convenient hands-free attribute, call up valuable information on the spot: the patient’s medical record, vital signs, laboratory and scan and x-ray results, relevant anatomy/technical considerations etc. Additionally, the anesthesiologists and nurses in the room could be using the glass for similar purposes, accomplishing many tasks more efficiently and accurately: including the completion of safety checklists, monitoring the patient’s vitals, searching the patient’s medical record etc. And many of these same benefits and more could be applied to the physicians and nurses et al in the rest of the hospital, whether it be on the patient ward, or in the ICU or the emergency room.
Clearly, like all new information technologies, the great challenge will be to harness the enormous benefits to us all while still respecting all our privacy. On this point, I have great confidence in medical science. Like all innovations in medical history, whether it was at first the clandestine performance of anatomical dissections in basements or the initially very wary adoption of sterile techniques in the operating room, this advance will similarly mature and be integrated into our medical systems for the benefit of all.
Lorne Rosenfield M.D.