Surgeons and patients ‘walk through’ brain anatomy with virtual reality platform

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | July 25, 2016
CT Health IT MRI Rad Oncology X-Ray
Academic hospitals around U.S.
are deploying VR technology
Virtual reality isn’t just for the gaming industry — hospitals around the U.S. are finding ways to utilize it for better health care. Most recently, the department of neurosurgery at Stanford University has implemented Surgical Theater’s virtual reality visualization platform to educate patients and train residents.

Conventionally, neurosurgeons will evaluate tumors or vascular abnormalities on a flat, black-and-white 2-D image. But with Precision VR, they can walk into the space between vascular structures and stand between arteries and the tumor — and so can their patients.

It leverages fighter jet flight simulation technology with MR and CT scans of the patient’s anatomy to generate a virtual reality reconstruction. The platform enables multiple levels of interaction for the surgeon and patient including swiping across the touch screen and utilizing an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive VR headset.

Together, patient and physician can walk down a surgical path or minimally-invasive corridor. For example, if they are walking through the brain, they might see the tumor when they turn and look right; to the left, a nearby artery; and looking down they will see the skull base.

Precision VR also allows neurosurgeons to simulate complex procedures before they even make an incision and train residents on some of the most challenging cases.

In addition to Stanford University, many academic hospitals around the country are leveraging Precision VR, including Mayo Clinic, Mount Sinai, University of California, Los Angeles, New York University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

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