Sant’Orsola Pioneers AR Surgery

Future of surgery is already here.

Future of surgery is already here.

Sant’Orsola: face operation on first patient thanks to ‘Vostars’

AR Visor helps surgeon ‘see’ throughout the op


There is an air of celebration at Sant’Orsola: in the corridors of people are smiling, hugging, and saluting each other, a lot, all because of the introduction of Vostars, an acronym used to indicate the augmented reality viewer. The device, used for the first time in the world in an operating room of the Polyclinic, projects the Bolognese hospital into the international scientific panorama. The latest generation helmet-visor is the result of a European project coordinated by the University of Pisa and which sees Alma Mater and Sant’Orsola at the forefront as partners responsible for clinical trials. It allows the surgeon to view a dotted line in 3D directly on the patient’s bone, showing the path to follow with a surgical instrument, as if it were in the presence of a sort of navigator. The first intervention will take place in December, then two more, all on men and women between the ages of 20 and 40 who have malformations to their facial bone structures.

Giovanni Badiali: “In a single vision reality and virtual content are perfectly combined.”


But what is reality augmented? “It combines the view of reality and virtual content in one,” replies Giovanni Badiali, 39 years old, a fixed-term senior researcher. “The most important feature of the viewer, in the surgical field, is the accuracy of the collimation, around a millimeter, between virtual content, in 3D, based on width, length and depth, and that in real terms.” Thanks to a video camera, Vostars combines reality in front of the specialist with the radiological images of the patient and makes sure that the two remain coherent in focus. For Professor Claudio Marchetti, director of Maxillo-facial and Oral Surgery of the Polyclinic, “This is a cultural novelty.” In fact, he adds that “when the surgeon plans an operation, he thinks in three dimensions and so far, looking at the plates, we had only two available for programming, that is, height and width. Instead, our desire is to be able to master the third dimension, depth. From this we arrived at the technological project to be transferred to the viewer.”  The success of the experimentation starts from afar, “from the victory of the European Horizon 2020 call which allowed us to take advantage of 4,000,230 euros” specifies Marchetti to make the helmet-visor, but our studies date back to over ten years ago.” 

Sala Borsa Trial

The Sala Borsa will host the conference ‘From augmented reality to personalized surgery’ where surgeons will be able to test the system thanks to a virtual simulation. The presentation was also attended by Uberto Pagotto, delegate of the rector for national research programs, Stefano Bonaccini, Regional president, who spoke of “health care for the environment” and the director of Sant’Orsola, Chiara Gibertoni. She focused on the recognition of IRCCS, an institution of hospitalization and care of a scientific nature, for the Polyclinic.

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