The potential of virtual reality has gone far beyond gaming and entertainment! It did not take long for people in the medical industry to see the advantages of virtual training for their doctors and especially for their soon to be surgeons.
Last April 14, 2016, a British Doctor named Dr. Shafi Ahmed, live streamed an actual surgery while wearing a VR headset as he operates on a fictitious patient at the Royal London Hospital for the Virtual Surgeon program of Medical Realities.
The VR operation on a cancerous tissue removal lasted approximately three hours and has brought surgery further into the 21st century. All thanks to the partnership between Barts Health and Mativision, the broadcast will serve as an educational tool for medical professionals. This eliminates the expensive flight to a hospital for an on-site training as students can tune into virtual reality and see how the surgery was performed, firsthand.
A few medical schools and training laboratories have started applying virtual reality in their classes. With over 3 years in the market, NeuroTouch has helped doctors rehearse actual neurosurgeries, stimulating critical operations before the actual to minimize the potential rate of failure. This technology is a virtual reality stimulator that has haptic feedback (allows one to feel actual objects used in the simulation) developed by the National Research Council of Canada. The NeuroTouch Cranio is currently available in 4 scenarios: debulking, hemostasis, microdissection, and tumor.
Dr. Rolando Del Maestro, the Director of the Neurosurgical Simulation Research Centre in Montreal explains the importance of the simulations. “Every pilot that gets in a plane has trained in a simulator and therefore it doesn’t matter what country you’re in, everybody has trained in that simulator. You have to be up to a certain level of efficiency before you ever get in a plane. Everybody who is training in neurosurgery throughout the world could be trained on simulators and everybody could get the exact same level of training,”
The doctor has been working on NeuroTouch since 2007 and is proud to share his experiences in the surgery room as virtually real as possible. According to Del Maestro, the stimulation was created for two reasons.
There was a great focus on the patient’s safety. “Errors in neurosurgery potentially had a greater risk to the population,” says Del Maestro. The stimulation reduces the percentage of neurological failures suffered by patients.
Second, Del Maestro explained the difficulty and anatomical complexity of a pulsating brain during a surgery.
Del Maestro says that “If the most complex tissues could be simulated, then others could obviously be also”.