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Augmented-reality abdominal surgery makes history

The Tufts Medical Center emergency department. (Nicolaus Czarnecki/Boston Herald/TNS)
June 26, 2024

The first augmented-reality (AR) abdominal surgery was successfully carried out on March 11, 2024, in Santiago, Chile, by Dr. Alberto Rodriquez-Navarro.

Rodriquez-Navarro is also the CEO of Levita Magnetics, a medical equipment manufacturing company. It was through Levita Magnetics that he was able to develop the system that allows less invasive surgeries while not compromising surgical view.

In a press release for Levita Magnetics, Rodriquez-Navarro explained his drive to create the system, stating, “As a minimally invasive surgeon myself, I experienced firsthand all the limitations for performing optimal surgeries. As I couldn’t find the surgical platform of my dreams, I decided to gather a team and build it, leading to the development of the first-of-its-kind, game-changing MARS system.”

Levita’s MARS system, which combines a surgeon-controlled arm with AR viewing, promises to reduce scarring, patient downtime, and surgical attendee presence. Rodriquez-Navarro connected MARS to the Meta Quest 3 headset; however, MARS is designed to be compatible with multiple headsets, provided they are newer models with comparable technologies.

Rodriquez-Navarro believes this surgery is the first in a revolutionary approach that will eventually apply to all surgeries. “Levita continues to push the boundaries of technological innovation in the operating room, initially deploying our MARS system and now with the first-ever augmented reality abdominal surgery,” he stated.

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“By leveraging our MARS system with other technologies like AR, we can empower surgeons to perform more efficient procedures while improving visualization and ergonomic function,” Rodriquez-Navarro added.

The MARS system, based on the same principles as Levita’s Magnetic Surgical System, gained FDA clearance in late August of 2023. Currently, MARS is the only known system incorporating minimally-invasive surgery with magnets that was developed for abdominal surgery use.

“MARS by Levita has the potential to reshape the surgical industry and forever change medical innovation. Our pioneering MARS platform gives patients and surgeons a transformative tool that will usher in a fundamental shift in surgery for years to come,” Levita Chairperson Maria Sainz stated in a press release regarding FDA clearance.

Sainz added, “Levita’s system can aid in surgeon proficiency and efficiency, and can reduce the need for assistive personnel, signaling a major achievement not only for Levita but for surgical care.”