Background: This group has previously reported work on a cart-based AV system for communication to the OR using the internet. This technology has been transformed into wearable technology to enable a less restrictive interface between the operating surgeon and mentor.
Objective: To develop a mobile system using wearable technology that enables a mentor surgeon to communicate with a mentee in the operating room for the purposes of guiding them through a surgical procedure.
Description: A telementoring platform has been developed consisting of a Mentor Station and an in-room Mobile Telementoring Package (MTP). The MTP consists of a cube-sized network connected base station which receives wired inputs from any desired video, x-ray, or monitoring source; a head-mounted video camera, microphone, and earphone; a tablet sized backpack computer; and an iPad display hung from the laparoscopic monitor. The Mentor Station consists of a laptop computer with second, extended display and a speakerphone. The system allows a mentor to see what the mentee sees as well as any input from the base station (laparoscope, room camera, etc.). With the wearable headcam and computer backpack plus the local iPad display the mentee can see and hear the mentor and receive video content “pushed” to him such as the live laparoscopic view, the headcam view, or recorded material. The mentor can telestrate on the mentee’s live operative view or capture images/ video and play them back to the mentee with telestration.
Results: Multiple mentoring sessions have been conducted using the system. The mentor is able to see the operative field via the mentee’s headcam and the laparoscope view. Using verbal instruction, telestration, and playback of pre-recorded material, the mentor has been able to help novice mentee subjects perform complex laparoscopic surgical tasks such as intracorporeal suturing and knot tying. The communication is stable with acceptable image latency and the wearable technology is comfortable and uninhibiting.
Conclusion: A robust eminently mobile AV communication package has been developed using wearable technology that is ideally suited for surgical mentoring. This system is now being tested in simulated clinical environments such as laparoscopic colectomy procedures.