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Surgeons perform first live Google Glass training session

23 May 2014

A surgeon at The Royal London Hospital today (22 May 2014) became the first in the UK to broadcast online a live surgical procedure using a pair of Google Glass eyewear.

The procedure - to remove cancerous tissue from the liver and bowel of a patient - was watched live by surgical students around the world on a computer or mobile phone, who also had the opportunity to put their questions directly to the surgeon.

Performing the surgery was Mr Shafi Ahmed, Royal College of Surgeons’ Council Member-elect and Colorectal Cancer Lead at Barts Health NHS Trust and Associate Dean at Barts and The London Medical School. He said:

“I am delighted that by using Google glass we are transporting our future surgeons directly into the operating theatre. Using this technology will support us to deliver high-quality training and safe care now and in to the future.”

The students typed their questions online as they watched the procedure. Their queries then appeared on the bottom left-hand side of the Google glass worn by the surgeon, who then answered them verbally, transmitted across the online feed.

As the questions appear to the side of the Google glass there is no risk to the patient as it doesn't restrict the surgeon's view.

This is the first time in the UK Google glasses have been used for a real time broadcast of surgery to teach a global audience. The glasses will provide the opportunity for students to have the same view as the operating surgeon and to ask questions simultaneously. It has the potential for remote learning for huge numbers of surgical trainees allowing greater clinical exposure for medical students and surgeons in training.

Professor Norman Williams, President of the Royal College of Surgeons said:

‘Today we got a glimpse of what technology can do for the future of surgical training. The unique and unparalleled view of an operation means trainee surgeons know better what to expect when they go in to the operating theatre. There is potential for trainee surgeons from around the world to watch and learn from leading surgeons in their fields of expertise.’

Notes to editors

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808.

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