October 9, 2020 1.20 pm This story is over 20 months old

Lincolnshire man first in UK to have smart glasses heart procedure

New tech in use after pandemic restrictions

A Lincolnshire man became the first patient in the UK to have heart surgery performed using smart glasses.

The cardiology team from Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Cambridge performed the first non-surgical procedure on 65-year-old John Constable on Wednesday, September 30. It took around two and a half hours.

The Surgery Assistance smart glasses, which were developed by Amsterdam-based company Rods&Cones, are equipped with multiple cameras, a torch and earpiece. They also share live video, audio and still photos which can then be viewed in real time and annotated remotely via a laptop.

Traditionally, the hospital would have to wait for a technical expert to attend procedures, but COVID-19 forced the trust to find new ways to perform procedures and reduce the number of people in the room.

The smart glasses procedure means that doctors and their teams can collaborate with experts anywhere in the world, including product technicians, as well as being able to access highly specialist and technical support.

The smart glasses procedure was carried out on September 30. | Photo: Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

The smart glasses were used during the implant of the Medtronic Cobalt XT CRTD system, a device which is used for treating heart failure.

The procedure involved implanting a cardiac resynchronisation therapy device, which is put in the chest and connected to the heart via leads.

The device then uses complex algorithms to identify irregular heartbeats. It responds with impulses that correct the heart’s electrical signals and reduce the patient’s symptoms of heart failure.

Whilst on the recovery ward, John said: “I’ve been very well looked after and very impressed with the professionalism across the hospital.

“I’ve felt completely safe at all times and would encourage anyone else needing to come to hospital to not delay their treatment.”

Consultant Cardiologist Dr Patrick Heck wearing the smart glasses. | Photo: Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Consultant Cardiologist Dr Patrick Heck said: “We are trialling this in our cardiac units, specifically for the implant of the Medtronic cardiac devices where we need technical support to programme the device to match the needs of the patient.

“However, we see this as just the start and there could be many other opportunities for use of the smart glasses, from dialling-in other doctors around the world to support on complex cases to training the next generation of cardiologists.”