Doctors aren’t technically superheroes, but they do save lives. And now surgeons at one local hospital will even have what officials are describing as “X-ray vision.”

Lutheran Health Network announced Thursday that an augmented reality system will now allow some physicians at Dupont Hospital to “see through” a patient while conducting “minimally invasive” spine surgeries.

Dupont is the only hospital in the region to use the technology, according to a news release, and only one of three in Indiana. The hospital will use the new system for the first time next week, a spokeswoman said.

The augmented reality surgical equipment works similarly to a real-time GPS, showing doctors where to place implants during spinal surgeries, officials said.

Dr. William Aaron Kunkle, an orthopedic surgeon at Dupont, said the device “allows us to simplify complex spine surgeries, making them safer and more effective for patients and enabling us to handle difficult cases in an efficient, minimally invasive way.”

The hospital touted the difference between its new program and traditional systems, noting augmented reality allows surgeons to focus on the patient “rather than on a distant screen displaying the patient’s anatomy.”

During surgeries using the augmented reality system, doctors will wear a “transparent near-eye-display headset,” as well as other elements in standard guidance systems. The technology analyzes where the surgeon’s tools are in real time and displays those tools superimposed on the patient’s CT scan.

Then, according to the release, the data is “projected onto the surgeon’s retina,” allowing them to look at both the data and the patient. Dupont claims the technology should “revolutionize how surgery is done,” possibly making procedures “easier, faster and safer.”

Dupont neurosurgeon Dr. Nicholas Wetjen called the new technology an “added value” for surgical patients at the hospital.

“It improves upon the traditional guidance systems with impressive precision and a design that doesn’t disrupt the surgery workflow,” Wetjen said.

Statehouse and General Assignment Reporter

Brett Stover is a Reporter covering the Indiana Statehouse and general assignments for The Journal Gazette. A University of Missouri graduate, Stover has covered news in Indiana since 2021.