HoloSurge awarded €8.9 million Horizon Europe grant to improve surgical planning with hologram technology

April 18, 2024

●      HoloSurge (a group of 14 European leaders in technology and healthcare) has been awarded one of the largest EU research & innovation grants in recent history.

●      Their project aims to reduce surgical complications and improve outcomes using HoloCare’s interactive 3D organ hologram technology.

●      Trials show a 74% reduction in time taken to align organs during liver surgeries using HoloCare's AR images versus MRI scans.[1]

●      The technology provides a real-time view of a patient's unique anatomy – before and during surgery – to enable more accurate decision-making, potentially saving lives.

[Oslo, Norway] One of the largest EU grants in recent history has been awarded to HoloSurge, an innovative four-year project bringing together 14 European leaders in technology and healthcare research with a shared goal to reduce the risk of complications during planned surgery.

The €8.9 million grant, allocated by transnational research and innovation funding body, Horizon Europe, will fund the further development of organ hologram technology to power informed surgical decision-making.

This technology, developed by Norwegian medtech company HoloCare, currently provides liver surgeons with interactive 3D holograms of organs, and is used by doctors to plan and tailor operations to each person's individual anatomy.

The Horizon Europe Programme and the future of healthcare

With a funding pot of approximately €95.5 billion, the Horizon Europe programme focuses on advancing research projects centred on three fundamental pillars: excellent science, industrial leadership and societal challenges.

The funding secured by the HoloSurge partnership represents an exciting opportunity for European scientific leaders to translate research discoveries into practical applications that benefit patients.

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Advancing surgical precision: the role of hologram technology

The technology is initially being used for liver surgeries at five hospitals in Europe, including Oslo University Hospital. So far, trials show a 74% reduction in the time taken to align organs during surgery using HoloCare's AR images versus MRI scans.[2]

Using augmented reality headsets, such as the Microsoft HoloLens, surgeons are able to view a 3D hologram of a patient’s organ to plan operations more efficiently and accurately. The tool also allows them to move, rotate and expand the hologram, so that the organ can be viewed from above, below and behind.

Colleagues wearing the headsets can access and interact with the hologram at the same time, whether they're in the same room or connecting remotely from different locations. This allows multi-disciplinary teams to tap into the knowledge of external specialists, regarding potential surgical challenges, enhancing decision-making during the planning process.

In future, the holograms will also be superimposed onto the patient during the surgery itself as a reference point to improve accuracy and intraoperative navigation.

Meeting critical needs in modern surgery

Currently, surgery is the main treatment for liver cancer, with the potential to extend some patients' lives by up to 10 years. If surgery isn't an option, patients may undergo palliative chemotherapy, which typically offers around 3 years of survival.

The holographic technology, developed by HoloCare, is set to significantly improve both the surgical process and the decision-making before surgery, potentially reducing complications. This includes issues such as infection, bleeding, organ damage and death – which currently affect up to 48% of liver surgeries and 60% of pancreatic surgeries.[3],[4]

Due to their two-dimensional nature, traditional imaging methods, such as ultrasound, MRI and CT scans, can also result in surgeons missing critical details. Around 40% of all lesions in the tail of the pancreas currently go unnoticed using ultrasound technology.[5]

Integration of hologram technology into surgical workflows

Over a four-year period, the 14 HoloSurge partners will support the integration of the cutting-edge hologram technology into existing surgical workflows. The team will ensure regulatory compliance, clinical validation, and technical optimisation for widespread adoption in liver and pancreatic cancer surgeries.

Dr Thomas Lango, Chief Scientist at St. Olavs Hospital and SINTEF in Trondheim, Norway: “The fusion of available data sources (CT, MR, ultrasound) into holograms made available for clinicians in minimally invasive procedures like laparoscopic surgery and flexible endoscopy will change the way clinicians work in the future. It will empower clinicians to navigate intricate anatomical landscapes with unprecedented precision and 3D understanding not readily available from traditional cross sectional 2D images. The HoloCare technology promises to not only improve image-guided medical procedures, but also collaboration and training of new experts.”

Prof David Jayne, Professor of Surgery at the University of Leeds and Hon. Consultant Surgeon at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust: “The Holocare technology is an exciting advance in how we treat cancer patients with the potential to transform surgical care. The superior anatomical knowledge gained from the technology will enable more precise surgery with better cancer outcomes for patients”.

Jahn Otto, Innovation Director at HoloCare: “Innovation has long been the foundation for prosperity in Europe, from the breakthroughs improving healthcare to the technological advances growing our economy. In essence, Horizon Europe is not just about funding; it's about forging connections, driving innovation, and shaping the future of healthcare. This not only opens doors for collaboration with the EU but also with Norway.  

“The HoloSurge partnership stands as a testament to this. Through joint efforts with experts from the EU, UK and Norway, we’re aiming to use our hologram technology to transform the surgical outcomes of individuals worldwide. Our hope is that it can be adapted to benefit a wider range of surgeries in the future.”