Virtual reality for surgery training

All about VR for Surgery

Surgery is an essential area of medicine. Really well trained doctors safe thousands of people’s life’s a day. However, to become a skilled professional takes several years of training. Trainees, from time to time perform practical courses which allows them to put into practice their knowledge in real patients.

Nevertheless, this can be seen as a problem by the person receiving the care as they might not feel comfortable enough to be operated by an inexperienced surgeon. So, would it not be incredible to practice surgery beforehand?

In recent times, students can learn and improve their skills without setting real patients at risk at the same time that they get feedback for their actions. This is possible due to the improvement that technology has had in medicine.

The medical sector has been one of the earliest industries in adapting virtual reality to their daily life. Ever since, this technology has been widely used when training future surgeons as it allows medical students to have an in-depth anatomy knowledge through the interaction in a simulated environment.

With this technology statistics such as the ones that are the ones that are listed below could be avoided:

  • 30% of the surgeons were not able to operate independently after their residency as a study of the University of Michigan states.
  • According to a research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, more inexperienced surgeons had mortality rates 5 times higher than the skilled ones.

Leading companies bringing VR into OR’s

The ability to study 3D scans before an operation helps surgeons to prepare for each case and implement proactive, time-saving procedures. Additionally, storing images and patient data on the VR software, reduces the need for expensive screens and unnecessary staff.

Companies like Osso (Boston, USA), InmersiveTouch (Chicago, USA), FundamentalVR (London, UK) or Surgical Theater (CA, USA) are cutting edge companies that provide their services to the operating rooms and universities. As an example, Surgical Theater has created a neurosurgical Rehearshal Platform. This platform, scans 2D brain images and on-site VR specialists create individualized 3D models.

The brain models are then used to help guide a patient through the surgery details and as a planning tool for the surgical team; or the Surgical Plan Platform from InmersiveTouch used for surgical planning, training and education at universities such as John Hopkins.

Other smaller companies like 3DforScience (Madrid, Spain) or ServReality (Kyiv, Uckraine) work also with VR technologies improving each day and learning from experience to be able to provide VR platforms for surgery one day.

Conclusion

VR has helped in many different areas during surgery for example when removing a cancerous tumor from a patient. To achieve this, the tumor has been previously studied from all different perspectives to facilitate the surgeon to operate and remove the tumor and allow specialists to find new treatments to fight the cancer.

Even though VR is commonly and mainly used for training, it is widely used at the healthcare industry also for the early detection of Alzehimer’s disease, identifying signs of schizophrenia or even to reduce symptoms of depression. With all these advancements we hope to keep improving people’s life’s both in quality and length.

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