The first virtually augmented surgery in the Middle East and only the third outside of the United States was conducted last week at AUBMC as part of the Global Smile Foundation (GSF) MENA mission in Lebanon in collaboration with the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at AUBMC.
The virtually augmented surgery was carried out as part of a pilot program utilizing software by Vipaar, a remote video software company, which uses Google glasses to allow surgeons to communicate from thousands of miles away.
The software was used during the surgical procedure on a two-and-a-half year old girl with a cleft lip. The Vipaar technology allowed Dr. Usama Hamdan, president of GSF MENA and Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah, head of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at AUBMC, to communicate with a Reconstructive Surgeon at New York University, Dr. Raj Vyas. Cleft Lip surgery on a young patient requires a tremendous amount of precision and that is why the surgery was selected to test the software.
During the surgery, Vyas was able to see the surgery in the eyes of Hamdan and Abu-Sittah on his iPad in NYC. In turn, Vyas, who has previous experience with the Vipaar technology, virtually demonstrated where the incisions should be made. The surgical team in Beirut was able to see the surgical markings through the glasses as if they were on the patient’s face.
“The software will allow us to share expertise in performing cleft lip procedures, amongst others, with surgeons in remote or poverty-stricken areas in need,” said Hamdan. The surgeries conducted as part of The Global Smile Foundation MENA mission are supported by the Talia Foundation and INFOPRO. “Most patients with cleft lips come from impoverished backgrounds and the support of foundations such as the Talia Foundation and organizations like INFORPRO make it possible to provide patients with life-changing surgeries,” he added.
Abu-Sittah added, “The software is important in two ways. First it allows us to further our academic mission at AUBMC by sharing our expertise and providing education and training to physicians and surgeons. Second, it allows us to reach those in remote areas virtually without them needing to travel to Lebanon or vice versa. It increases access to patients in the areas that need it.”
AUBMC and the Global Smile Foundation MENA have been partnering together since 2012 to provide surgeries for patients with cleft lip in Lebanon and the region.