As augmented reality glasses start to emerge upon the medical field, we've told you about doctors using wearable technology to help find hard-to-locate veins. However, the latest in wearable medical tech is tackling a more serious problem, the second-leading cause of death in the U.S.
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A team of researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a pair of high-tech glasses that could help surgeons visualize cancer cells. The glasses contain custom video technology, a head-mounted display and targeted molecular agent that binds to cancer cells. When viewed from behind the glasses, the cancer cells glow blue.
Even when magnified to a high degree, cancer cells are notoriously difficult to see. The glasses are designed to help surgeons more easily differentiate between healthy cells and cancer cells so no tumor cells are overlooked during surgery.
The glasses were used during surgery for the first time earlier this week at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Washington University School of Medicine. Julie Margenthaler, the breast surgeon who performed the operation, said about 20 to 25 percent of breast cancer patients who have lumps removed return for a second surgery because current technology can't adequately display the extent of the disease. Her hope is that this new technology could reduce or ultimately eliminate the need for second surgeries.
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"We're in the early stages of this technology, and more development and testing will be done, but we're certainly encouraged by the potential benefits to patients," Margenthaler, an associate professor of surgery at Washington University, said in a press release. "Imagine what it would mean if these glasses eliminated the need for follow-up surgery and the associated pain, inconvenience and anxiety."
To get an idea of what Margenthaler saw during the operation, check out the video below.