Dermatologist Jonathan Kantor is using Google Glass during Mohs surgery
August 25, 2014
During days when he is performing Mohs surgery, Jonathan Kantor of the Florida Center for Dermatology wears what he describes as “a digital camera on steroids.”
Kantor, who has offices in Riverside near St. Vincent’s Medical Center and in St. Augustine near Flagler Hospital, uses Google Glass to make photos and videos of the procedure.
Google Glass — developed by Google — is essentially a small computer with a screen he can look at above his right eye.
It is attached to something that resembles an eyeglass frame, though Kantor’s frame has no lenses. Kantor operates the device with his voice and movements of his head.
“What is really revolutionary is it is completely hands-free,” he said.
Named for Frederic Mohs, the surgeon who pioneered the procedure, Mohs surgery is used to treat common types of skin cancer.
During the surgery, after tissue is removed, it is examined by a pathologist for cancer cells while the patient waits to see if more tissue needs to be removed.
Mohs surgery, which has a very high cure rate with basal cell carcinoma and can also effective with squamous cell carcinoma and some types of melanoma, can be a time-consuming process, said Kantor, who acts as both surgeon and pathologist during the procedure.
The surgery to remove tissue only takes a few minutes but freezing and examining the excised tissue can take about 45 minutes and there can be several repetitions of that process until all cancerous cells have been removed and reconstructive surgery can begin.
Kantor only uses Google Glass in surgery with a patient’s permission.
“Patients have been really amenable to it,” he said.
Kantor got his Google Glass in April, when Google was only selling the device to people who applied for it and were approved.
It sold for $1,500. In May, it became available to the public. Generally, those of us who aren’t Mohs surgeons can take photos and videos, as well as download and use various apps.
Kantor, who is the first dermatological surgeon to use Google Glass in Mohs surgery, said Google Glass has great potential to assist in medical procedures, though HIPAA regulations limit its usefulness at the moment.
“We’re hamstrung because of HIPAA privacy rules,” he said. “So I won’t be connected to the Internet during surgery. … To use it to its full potential, you need software that allows secure consultations.”
But Kantor, who is a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, said Google Glass is already a great educational tool.
“There is already a world of opportunity in terms of teaching and also in terms of patient education,” said Kantor, who has already published one article in a medical journal discussing the potential of Google Glass and has another waiting publication.