November 27, 2021
"You can walk into the heart and surround yourself with it," says Dr. Robert Hannan of the HoloLens.

Photo: Edgar E. Estrada

The HoloLens enables doctors to better explain a patient's heart condition to children.

Photo: Nicklaus Children's Hospital

Economic Backbone - Pediatrics

HoloLens glasses allow pediatric heart surgeons to see 3-D images of the heart

Amy Martinez | 7/30/2021

Pediatric heart surgeons at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami are using immersive technology to help with pre-operative planning and patient education.

The technology, provided by German company ApoQlar, turns data from MRI and CT scans into 3-D holographic images of a patient’s heart. The medical professionals wear Microsoft HoloLens glasses, which superimpose the virtual images in the space in front of their eyes, allowing them to look at the organ from different perspectives.

“We can create 20 to 30 different views in a relatively short period of time, put them on the HoloLens and look at them all,” says Dr. Robert Hannan, who heads the hospital’s cardiovascular surgery advanced projects lab. “You can walk into the heart and surround yourself with it. If you think about planning a heart operation, do you want to look at a two-dimensional monitor, or do you want to look through your HoloLens at the true, three-dimensional representation of what you’re going to see tomorrow?”

Along with 3-D printed models of a patient’s heart, the holographic images enable doctors to better explain the patient’s condition to children and their families, Hannan says.

“In the old days, no matter how hard we tried to educate kids on what their condition was, they knew they had a scar on their chest, and that was about it for a lot of them,” he says. “Now, we give them a heart model and show them what they have on a HoloLens.”

The hospital plans to expand its use of immersive technology to other areas, including orthopedic and spinal surgery.

Pediatric Partnership

Last December, doctors with the medical group practice of Nicklaus Children’s Health System joined with Baptist Health South Florida to staff the emergency departments at Baptist Hospital and Homestead Hospital in Miami-Dade County. The pediatric emergency physicians who’d been working at both hospitals became employees of Nicklaus Children’s Pediatric Specialists.

The partnership builds on an in-patient transfer agreement that the two health care providers created in response to COVID-19. In April 2020, Baptist Health began sending children to Nicklaus for in-patient pediatric care to free up bed space for adults infected with the coronavirus. Baptist Health continues to provide other pediatric services, including neonatal intensive care, pediatric oncology and outpatient pediatric general surgery.


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