Royal Papworth Hospital doctors trial ‘smart glasses’ for first time in UK heart procedure

Royal Papworth cardiologists’ trial first procedure with virtual support using glasses which provide doctors-eye view of procedure. Picture: Mearns & Pike Limited

Royal Papworth cardiologists’ trial first procedure with virtual support using glasses which provide doctors-eye view of procedure. Picture: Mearns & Pike Limited

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Doctors at a Cambridgeshire hospital have trialled a heart procedure using ‘smart glasses’ to provide a live “doctors-eye view”.

Royal Papworth cardiologists’ trial first procedure with virtual support using glasses which provide doctors-eye view of procedure. Picture: Mearns & Pike Limited Royal Papworth cardiologists’ trial first procedure with virtual support using glasses which provide doctors-eye view of procedure. Picture: Mearns & Pike Limited

A cardiology team at Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Cambridge have performed the first medical procedure in the UK using the glasses.

The glasses are equipped with multiple cameras, a torch and earpiece, and share live video, audio and still photos which can then be viewed in real-time.

It means doctors and their teams can collaborate with experts anywhere in the world, including product technicians.

The Surgery Assistance smart glasses, developed by Amsterdam-based company Rods&Cones, were used during the implant a state-of-the-art device used for treating heart failure.

The procedure involved implanting a cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) device which is implanted in the chest and connected to the heart via leads.

The device uses complex algorithms to identify irregular heartbeats and respond with small electrical impulses that correct the heart’s electrical signals and reduce the patient’s symptoms of heart failure.

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Speaking from a recovery ward following the procedure, the patient, 65-year-old John Constable from Lincolnshire, said: “I’ve been very well looked after today and very impressed with the professionalism across the hospital.

I’ve felt completely safe at all times and would encourage anyone else needing to come to hospital to not delay their treatment.”

Commenting on the introduction of the new technology, Alaina Yardley, lead cardiac physiologist at Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The medical technology we use to treat heart failure and arrythmias is increasingly sophisticated, using complex algorithms that need specialist programming to match the patient’s symptoms.

“Traditionally we would have to wait for a technical expert to attend procedures, but COVID-19 has forced us to find new ways to perform procedures and reduce the number of people in catheter labs.”

Consultant cardiologist, Dr Patrick Heck, said: “We are trialling this in our cardiac units, specifically for the implant of the Medtronic cardiac devices where we need technical support to programme the device to match the needs of the patient.

“However, we see this as just the start and there could be many other opportunities for use of the smart glasses, from dialling-in other doctors around the world to support on complex cases to training the next generation of cardiologists.”

Eilish Midlane, chief operating officer at Royal Papworth, added: “This is a fantastic innovation which supports teaching, training and remote engineering.

“In the context of a global pandemic, we are working hard to keep patients, staff and visitors to our hospital safe at all times and technology like this reduces footfall through the hospital and reduces the number of people in our catheter labs during procedures.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time.”


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