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Amrita Hospital, Kochi officially launches South Asia’s first extended reality ecosystem in healthcare

Extended reality was initially popularized in the gaming industry. It was a milestone to overcome the complexity of integrating gaming technologies into medicine. 

Amrita Hospital, Kochi has developed a first-of-its-kind Extended Reality (XR) Supported ecosystem in healthcare which leverages augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies to significantly enhance capabilities in patient care, medical training, and research. The integration of this advanced technology in clinical practice marks a major milestone in the healthcare industry of India, according to experts.

“The implementation of extended reality application at Amrita Hospital is the result of several years of extensive work by our team of researchers. The technology has already been deployed in the treatment of 150 patients, with excellent outcomes. Extended reality was initially popularized in the gaming industry,” said Dr Mahesh Kappanayil, Professor, Paediatric Cardiologist and Lead at 3D Labs, Amrita Hospital, Kochi.

“It was a big challenge to overcome the complexity of integrating gaming technologies into medicine. This achievement builds upon Amrita Hospital’s existing 3D lab and 3D printing capabilities and setting up the first-ever point-of-care virtual reality lab.” 

The technology allows medical professionals to visualize organs as holograms, and has already been deployed in the treatment of 150 patients, with excellent outcomes.
The technology allows medical professionals to visualize organs as holograms, and has already been deployed in the treatment of 150 patients, with excellent outcomes.

Amrita Hospital is working closely with industry leaders like Microsoft India and other developers. The extended reality-supported system allows medical professionals to visualize organs as holograms, enabling the delivery of patient-specific, precision medicine. The plan is to further enhance the capabilities of the XR system by adding immersive teaching tools for medical students, telemedicine operations, and enhanced remote connectivity. 

“By embracing metaverse concepts and utilizing patient data such as CT scans, the XR system allows doctors to understand complex defects, precisely plan difficult surgeries and collaborate with their counterparts from anywhere in the world, leveraging remote connectivity to discuss patient cases and develop treatment plans,” added Dr Kappanayil. 

“Amrita Hospital’s Paediatric Cardiac Unit has been at the forefront of utilizing 3D printing and extended reality (AR/VR) technologies for the clinical benefit of patients. These state-of-the-art 3D+ technologies enable doctors to create precise replicas of real or actual heart or any organ, facilitating in-depth study and preparation before actual surgery,” said Dr. Krishnakumar, Professor and Head of Paediatric Cardiology, Amrita Hospital, Kochi.

“The application of these technologies is set to revolutionize medicine by enabling precise surgical planning, customized prosthetics and implants, development of innovative medical devices, and enhanced medical education and training.”

Amrita Hospital houses India’s first “point of care” medical 3D printing and virtual reality laboratory. This advanced facility is one of the few of its kind and is now being utilized by multiple medical specialties to provide precision and personalized medicine to patients.

“We have handled numerous rare and unique cases using the 3D imaging system. Many of the cases we have undertaken have been either first in the world or in India. Despite the advanced nature of the technology, only a handful of centres worldwide have adopted it on a large scale,“ Dr Kappanayil also said.

“We are now able to treat patients who have been rejected by other hospitals due to doctors’ constraints to understand the structural complexities of organs and plan the surgeries effectively. The process involves converting a patient’s real CT scan into a digital 3D file, allowing doctors to examine each case in three dimensions using 3D printing technology or AR/VR.”

In 2022, a three-and-a-half-year-old girl from Uganda faced a unique and unprecedented medical situation. Rejected by several hospitals due to the complexity and rarity of her condition, she found a possibility for successful treatment at Amrita Hospital, Kochi thanks to the extended reality technology. Dr Brijesh P Kottayil, Associate Professor, Department of Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery, was one of her doctors.

“The medical team at the hospital embarked on a challenging journey to help her, and with the assistance of extended reality technology, we were able to thoroughly analyse her case. After careful planning and consideration, the team successfully performed a crucial surgery, marking a significant milestone in her treatment and recovery. The successful outcome brought hope not only to the girl’s family but also to the medical community as a whole,” he explained.

Amrita Hospital is working closely with industry leaders like Microsoft India and other developers.
Amrita Hospital is working closely with industry leaders like Microsoft India and other developers.

Amrita Hospital has been utilizing 3D printing since 2015, empowering surgeons with extensive pre-surgical planning capabilities. This comprehensive approach has significantly reduced surgery times and enhanced overall patient care. Amrita Hospital has achieved several significant milestones, including India’s first reconstruction of the breastbone in an infant using 3D printing.

“We have been focusing on providing the best healthcare to all for over 25 years. Sense of fulfillment and happiness are heightened when we are empowered to provide exceptional patient care through the utilization of advanced technologies,” said Dr. Prem Nair, Group Medical Director, Amrita Hospitals.

“This not only benefits the patients but also contributes to the growth and development of future doctors, enabling them to acquire a deeper understanding of various medical situations and gain valuable learning experiences.”

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