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Extended Reality in Medical Practice


Purpose of review

Advances in display technology and computing have led to new devices capable of overlaying digital information onto the physical world or incorporating aspects of the physical world into virtual scenes. These combinations of digital and physical environments are referred to as extended realities. Extended reality (XR) devices offer many advantages for medical applications including realistic 3D visualization and touch-free interfaces that can be used in sterile environments. This review introduces extended reality and describes how it can be applied to medical practice.

Recent findings

The 3D displays of extended reality devices are valuable in situations where spatial information such as patient anatomy and medical instrument position is important. Applications that take advantage of these 3D capabilities include teaching and pre-operative planning. The utility of extended reality during interventional procedures has been demonstrated with through 3D visualizations of patient anatomy, scar visualization, and real-time catheter tracking with touch-free software control.


Extended reality devices have been applied to education, pre-procedural planning, and cardiac interventions. These devices excel in settings where traditional devices are difficult to use, such as in the cardiac catheterization lab. New applications of extended reality in cardiology will continue to emerge as the technology improves.

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References and Recommended Reading

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Jennifer N. A. Silva MD or Jonathan R. Silva PhD.

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Conflict of Interest

Christopher Andrews, Michael K. Southworth, Jennifer N. A. Silva, and Jonathan R. Silva each report grants from Children’s Discovery Institute and National Institute of Health.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Andrews, C., Southworth, M.K., Silva, J.N.A. et al. Extended Reality in Medical Practice. Curr Treat Options Cardio Med 21, 18 (2019).

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  • Extended reality devices
  • Informatics
  • Display technology