The impact of extended reality on surgery: a scoping review.
PURPOSE: Extended reality (XR) is defined as a spectrum of technologies that range from purely virtual environments to enhanced real-world environments. In the past two decades, XR-assisted surgery has seen an increase in its use and also in research and development. This scoping review aims to map out the historical trends in these technologies and their future prospects, with an emphasis on the reported outcomes and ethical considerations on the use of these technologies. METHODS: A systematic search of PubMed, Scopus, and Embase for literature related to XR-assisted surgery and telesurgery was performed using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for scoping reviews (PRISMA-ScR) guidelines. Primary studies, peer-reviewed articles that described procedures performed by surgeons on human subjects and cadavers, as well as studies describing general surgical education, were included. Non-surgical procedures, bedside procedures, veterinary procedures, procedures performed by medical students, and review articles were excluded. Studies were classified into the following categories: impact on surgery (pre-operative planning and intra-operative navigation/guidance), impact on the patient (pain and anxiety), and impact on the surgeon (surgical training and surgeon confidence). RESULTS: One hundred and sixty-eight studies were included for analysis. Thirty-one studies investigated the use of XR for pre-operative planning concluded that virtual reality (VR) enhanced the surgeon's spatial awareness of important anatomical landmarks. This leads to shorter operating sessions and decreases surgical insult. Forty-nine studies explored the use of XR for intra-operative planning. They noted that augmented reality (AR) headsets highlight key landmarks, as well as important structures to avoid, which lowers the chance of accidental surgical trauma. Eleven studies investigated patients' pain and noted that VR is able to generate a meditative state. This is beneficial for patients, as it reduces the need for analgesics. Ten studies commented on patient anxiety, suggesting that VR is unsuccessful at altering patients' physiological parameters such as mean arterial blood pressure or cortisol levels. Sixty studies investigated surgical training whilst seven studies suggested that the use of XR-assisted technology increased surgeon confidence. CONCLUSION: The growth of XR-assisted surgery is driven by advances in hardware and software. Whilst augmented virtuality and mixed reality are underexplored, the use of VR is growing especially in the fields of surgical training and pre-operative planning. Real-time intra-operative guidance is key for surgical precision, which is being supplemented with AR technology. XR-assisted surgery is likely to undertake a greater role in the near future, given the effect of COVID-19 limiting physical presence and the increasing complexity of surgical procedures.