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Wearable technology in the operating room: a systematic review


Wearable technology is an emerging manifestation of consumer electronics that has the potential to revolutionise healthcare. The novel hands-free design and clinically relevant functionalities of various wearable devices hold significant promise for surgery, but the breadth and quality of evidence supporting clinical implementation in the operating room remains unclear. The objective of this article is to provide an objective overview of the available literature regarding the use of wearable technology in surgery, both in clinical and simulated experimental settings. A systematic review examining the use of wearable technology in surgery was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines using the MEDLINE and Web of Science databases from inception through 15 January 2016. Three authors independently screened the titles and abstracts of the retrieved articles and those that satisfied the defined inclusion criteria were selected for a full-text review. A total of 87 publications were included in this review. These articles predominantly described the use of Google Glass, GoPro or customised head-mounted displays (HMDs) in a wide range of intraoperative clinical settings. The included articles were categorised based on the highlighted areas of clinical impact, with the majority (56) discussing various applications for enhancing intraoperative safety and efficiency. Almost all articles cited technological limitations and privacy concerns as serious barriers to the implementation of wearable technology in the operating room. Evidence in the available literature regarding the use of wearable technology in the operating room shows promise, but high-quality clinical trials are needed to fully understand their clinical impact. Further, it will be essential to address existing technological limitations, develop healthcare-specific applications, and integrate privacy-protecting safeguards before it may be feasible for wearable devices to seamlessly integrate into the operative environment.

  • Wearables
  • Operating room
  • Surgery
  • mHealth
  • Wearable technology
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