Surgical soundtracks: automatic acoustic augmentation of surgical procedures

Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2018 Sep;13(9):1345-1355. doi: 10.1007/s11548-018-1827-2. Epub 2018 Jul 27.


Purpose: Advances in sensing and digitalization enable us to acquire and present various heterogeneous datasets to enhance clinical decisions. Visual feedback is the dominant way of conveying such information. However, environments rich with many sources of information all presented through the same channel pose the risk of over stimulation and missing crucial information. The augmentation of the cognitive field by additional perceptual modalities such as sound is a workaround to this problem. A major challenge in auditory augmentation is the automatic generation of pleasant and ergonomic audio in complex routines, as opposed to overly simplistic feedback, to avoid alarm fatigue.

Methods: In this work, without loss of generality to other procedures, we propose a method for aural augmentation of medical procedures via automatic modification of musical pieces.

Results: Evaluations of this concept regarding recognizability of the conveyed information along with qualitative aesthetics show the potential of our method.

Conclusion: In this paper, we proposed a novel sonification method for automatic musical augmentation of tasks within surgical procedures. Our experimental results suggest that these augmentations are aesthetically pleasing and have the potential to successfully convey useful information. This work opens a path for advanced sonification techniques in the operating room, in order to complement traditional visual displays and convey information more efficiently.

Keywords: Acoustic augmentation; Auditory display; Computer-assisted interventions; Medical augmented reality; Psychoacoustics; Surgical sonification.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Audiovisual Aids*
  • Feedback, Sensory*
  • Humans
  • Sound*
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Vitreoretinal Surgery / methods*