Google Glass Passes IRB Muster, Assists in Cardiothoracic Surgeries

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , November 26, 2013

The hardware of Google Glass itself is a wonder of miniaturization : a forward-facing 5-megapixel camera, hands-free high-definition video control, and a small prism that presents the wearer with an effect of looking at a 25-inch monitor as seen from 7 or 8 feet away.

While it has already been used in orthopedic and gastrointestinal surgeries, the University of California at San Francisco is the first to receive IRB approval for use of Google Glass during cardiothoracic surgery. Already, Pierre Theodore, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon at UCSF, has performed 10 of 15 planned surgeries using Google Glass.

Image Handling
Such is the interest in Google Glass that last week Theodore was a star speaker at's "Unusual Thinkers" annual conference track, and he spoke to a packed house of several hundred.

Theodore showed a photo of one of UCSF's most advanced operating rooms, and noted with some irony that the 48-inch monitor provided for surgeons to review radiographic images was in a corner of the operating room, behind two anesthesia monitors and a storage unit. "It's not pointing towards the surgeon, so its overall accessibility at the point of care is limited," Theodore explained.

To use Glass, Theodore's team transferred these images to a secure Web site, taking care to remove all personal health information from the images before transfer. At a surgeon's voice command, Google Glass displays the image.

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7 comments on "Google Glass Passes IRB Muster, Assists in Cardiothoracic Surgeries"

Frank Poggio (12/3/2013 at 8:40 PM)
Mr. Kottners comment is interesting, but seems to relate to a teaching situation. Seems to me unless GG is less expensive than a video cam with Inet transmission, where's the real savings? I am sure it's cool to wear a camera on your head...but the ROI?

NHtraumadoc (12/3/2013 at 3:15 PM)
The solution you use of scrubbing patient ID off of images that are being used real-time for patient care is a dangerous one. We must always know that we are looking at the correct patient's data when we use it for patient care. It would be impossible to know whose xray is being displayed if it is anonymous. That should be a concern of the IRB if it hasn't been addressed.

Christian Assad Kottner (12/2/2013 at 5:53 PM)
I was recently involved in a procedure in which we were transmitting a PFO closure with an amplatzer device with Google glass. The telementor was an expert in the subject and he gave us priceless adgice. In addition this was the first time the procedure was being performed in the university. His advice proved to be extremely useful




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