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the Lens of
Imagine watching a procedure through the eyes of the surgeon.
That’s exactly what surgical leaders in the United States were
able to do while overseeing surgeons training in Paraguay and
Brazil with the help of UCLA doctors and Google Glass. David
Chen, MD (RES ’09), clinical director of UCLA’s Lichtenstein Amid
Hernia Clinic, and Justin Wagner, MD, a surgical resident, have
made it their mission to teach hernia surgery around the world,
and they are harnessing the latest technologies to help.
Hernia repair is among the most-common surgical procedures
performed worldwide, as well as one of the most teachable, lending
itself to the advent of today’s technology, Dr. Chen says. The team
UCLA surgeon Dr. David Chen (left) and Dr. Sergio Roll of Sao Paulo, Brazil, one
of the local surgeons learning to use Google Glass.
Photo: Dr. Justin Wagner
4 U MAGAZINE
Photo: Dr. Justin Wagner
used Google Glass, which, while worn like conventional glasses,
houses a computer the size of a Scrabble tile and is outﬁtted with
a touch-pad display and high-deﬁnition camera that can wirelessly
stream live images.
With Drs. Chen and Wagner’s help, surgeons at a hospital in Paraguay
wore Google Glass while performing a common type of hernia repair,
transmitting the operations live to a select group of leading surgeons in
the United States who could watch and oversee the procedures. The
experts could also transmit their comments to the Paraguayan surgeons,
who could read them on the Google Glass monitor.
“We are one of the ﬁrst to use Google Glass in teaching and
training surgeons from outside a country,” Dr. Chen says, adding that
hernia surgery is just the beginning. “Our goal is to utilize the latest
technologies like Google Glass, Facebook and Twitter in connecting
everyone in medicine worldwide for educational purposes that can
help improve medical care in resource-poor countries,” Dr. Chen says.
The UCLA team also visited Brazil, where they used Google Glass
during three hernia surgeries and also streamed a live post-surgery
debrieﬁng session. The team also plans to train 15 surgeons from
around Brazil who will then become trainers to teach other surgeons
at several regional hospitals for underserved patients.
Similar programs are being implemented in Haiti, the Dominican
Republic, Guatemala and Ecuador as part of an educational arm
of Hernia Repair for the Underserved, a nonproﬁt organization
that provides free hernia surgery to children and adults in the
Western Hemisphere. Dr. Chen is spearheading these educational
projects with the UCLA team to help “train the trainers” and
increase the number of surgeons performing this procedure in
underprivileged countries.“We are developing practical applications
for these technologies, so that surgeons in any setting can have
access to the global surgical community from within their own
operating rooms,” says Dr. Wagner. “Even after the training is over,
local surgeons can be teleproctored remotely, so they will remain
connected to experts worldwide.”