Last month, we heard from Dr. Guillermo Rosa, who made Leap Motion history at his family’s private dental practice in Resistencia, Argentina. As the first person to use the Leap Motion Controller during dental implant surgery, Dr. Rosa is also the first person ever confirmed to use our technology under sterile operating conditions for a human patient.

Recently, we caught up with Dr. Rosa to ask him about his love of technology and experience with the Leap Motion Controller.

Technology in the Operating Room

I’ve been an enthusiast of computers from childhood. My father bought me my first computer at the age of 11 – a Timex SICLAIR 2068. I did some programs, and with my brother built a gun to shoot the monitor.

Right after I graduated 17 years ago, I started to look for better ways of using computers in a clinical situation, trying to integrate as much as possible a PC (and all digital media) with dental operations in clinical/surgery situations, such as digital photographs to document cases, digital simulations of cosmetic changes, and improved communication with patients and the dental laboratory.

This helped us a lot in many aspects of our practice. We modified the dental equipment and developed an integration between the dental chair and a PC workstation, as the options in the market were very limited.

Sterile Conditions and Messy Peripherals

Every day, the number of digital images at the dental office is going up (for the better!), but interacting with this technology in a clinical/surgical situation is not easy. For proper ergonomics, we need to use an appropriate input device – you need the minimum (or ideally no) physical contact with surfaces that need to be regularly sterilized. The problem of sterility is one of the greatest challenges in modern healthcare technology.

We started using trackballs, followed by touchpads among others. But these input devices were not for surgery – unless we use an assistant outside the surgical field, they were not practical.

Then, last year, I saw a demo video on the Internet about the Leap Motion Controller. I was amazed, and I thought, “This technology may be great for the touchless clinical input interface we need!”

Using the Leap Motion Controller

To perform the surgery and take the video, I was helped by my colleagues at C.O.R.E. Clinic, Dr. Maria Lidia Elizondo and Dr. Daniel Rosa. Using the Touchless for Windows app with dental imaging software during surgery, I navigated through Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) 2D-slice images, a planned implant surgery 3D model, and intraoperatory digital X ray images. Also, I used the device to manipulate (zoom in, zoom out, enhance contrast) intraoperatory digital X-ray images – new images obtained during surgery – to confirm the right position of the surgical guide and final position of the implant.

The system allowed intraoperative touchless control during the surgery. I was able to navigate through the windows, zooming in and out, navigating through the different images and slices, and use different imaging tools. It was also possible to move the 3D implant surgery planning model. In the end, a dental implant placement, simultaneously with guided bone regeneration procedure, was accomplished.

Little Training Needed

The combined system performed very well, and I found it very useful to control the system without touching anything and keeping the surgical environment. The Leap Motion technology worked fantastic during surgery and was extremely useful.

The habituation period is not very long – after some minutes, one can easily interact with the system. But, for using it during surgery, I recommend that the user spend several training sessions – assuming that s/he previously mastered the software with the standard input devices (e.g. mouse, touchpad).

Ultimately, it depends on how the user is accustomed to natural user interfaces like touchscreens. With a little training by the user, without a doubt, it is easier and faster than changing sterile gloves. I think it has enormous potential in our field, and in general surgery too.

Dr. Rosa is continuing his work with other computer control apps like GameWAVE and Pointable. What do you think about the use of Leap Motion technology in clinical settings? Where else can you imagine it being used – and what sorts of apps would be needed?