Apple Vision Pro used during spinal operation as surgeon hails headset's ability to 'superpower' surgical teams

The Apple Vision Pro on a white table.
(Image credit: Brady Snyder / Future)

The Apple Vision Pro has now been on sale for more than a month now, but only for those who are in the United States. So it's perhaps all the more interesting that the first report of Apple's mixed reality headset being used in the operating theater is in not in its home country, but across the Atlantic.

A team at the private Cromwell Hospital in London reportedly used an Apple Vision Pro to help keep track of things during surgery when repairing a man's spine. The headset, which is expected to go on sale in the UK within months if previous rumors turn out to be true, wasn't worn by the surgeon himself but rather a scrub nurse who worked alongside him. It's reported that the headset was used to allow them to track the procedure as it unfolded and to know which tools to choose at the right time.

The use of the Apple Vision Pro during surgery could now expand with two NHS trusts in talks with Exex, a company that provided the AI-based software that made the whole thing possible.

A game changer

The news, reported by the UK's Daily Mail, hints at a future where using headsets like the Apple Vision Pro during surgery will become the norm because of the way it allows surgical teams to work.

Suvi Verho, the lead scrub nurse at London Independent Hospital, told the Daily Mail that the technology is a "game-changer", adding that using it "eliminates human error. It eliminates the guesswork." Guesswork is never something you want to associate with surgery, so Verho's assertion that such technology "gives you confidence in surgery" is sure to be well received.

Exex's AI technology reportedly keeps a note of each stage of the operation right now but will go further in the future — including measuring how well a particular surgery went when compared with the same procedures carried out by other surgeons.

Syed Aftab, the man who carried out the surgery two weeks ago, says that the use of the Apple Vision Pro can be like giving an inexperienced scrub nurse the knowledge to appear as if they had been in the role for 10 years. The surgeon believes that the technology can "superpower" operating teams.

The news of a surgery carried out using an Apple Vision Pro comes just a day after Apple also shared details about how visionOS app developers are creating apps that are aimed squarely at the medical market.

The Apple Vision Pro isn't a cheap device, of course. Priced at $3,499 for the entry-level 256GB model, the headset is also available with 512GB and 1TB of storage for those who need extra space. It isn't known which headset was used during this surgery, but it's unlikely that apps featuring detailed medical imagery are small in terms of footprint.

Apple announced the headset during the WWDC event in June of 2023 before finally releasing it on February 2 this year. Since then reviews have been largely positive, although the high price has caused some to balk. Apple is thought to be working on a cheaper version of the Apple Vision Pro, but details on what features and capabilities will be removed to lower the asking price are hard to come by — as is a clear understanding of when such a headset will be officially unveiled, let alone go on sale.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

  • Xijah
    This is Brilliant, and a glimpse for things to come, is so early to understand how much this and other devices like will intertwine in our lives. Defo a step in the right direction, human and machine augmentation.
  • Annie_M
    Xijah said:
    This is Brilliant, and a glimpse for things to come, is so early to understand how much this and other devices like will intertwine in our lives. Defo a step in the right direction, human and machine augmentation.
    Hello and welcome to iMore! It’s great to have you here. When you get a chance please take a minute to post an introduction to yourself in this thread: