Toronto surgeons using Xbox Kinect in operating room, and not making a mess

Toronto surgeons using Xbox Kinect in operating room, and not making a mess

Normally, the idea of people using video game equipment—or, more to the point, Microsoft equipment—in an operating room would scare us (“blue screen of death” sounds more ominous when shouted during surgery). But this actually sounds like a good idea: using the Xbox’s hands-free controller, the Kinect, to go through medical information just before surgery so doctors at Sunnybrook Hospital can keep their hands sterile.

According to the Toronto Star:

An engineering team used a Microsoft Xbox Kinect, a hands-free gaming console, to allow doctors to quickly access MRIs and CT scans without leaving the sterile field around the patient.

“What this was able to do is take away that last barrier and remove the mouse, remove the interface . . . and now I just give it hand signs,” said Dr. Calvin Law, a surgical oncologist. “We’re able to control the computer without actually touching anything.”…

During surgery, digital images act as a surgeon’s GPS, helping them navigate a patient’s body. But to maintain the sterile field, they cannot physically touch the imaging computer’s keyboard and mouse. Scrubbing in and out to access the computer safely can add as much as two hours to an operation.

Saving two hours in surgery, anesthesiology and labour expenses seems like the very definition of win-win. This might officially be the most profitable use of a Kinect, but whether it’s the awesomest is harder to judge. Unless Sunnybrook Hospital can show us video of surgeons using light sabers with their Kinects as well, we’re calling this a tie for now.

• Surgeons use XBox to keep hands sterile before surgery [Toronto Star]