Sep 27, 2019

Virtual Reality’s New Role In Surgical Training

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Surgical advances have led to the development of life-enhancing and life-saving procedures for a range of medical complications. But these advancements are only as good as the level of skill and knowledge of the surgeon.

In the last several years, virtual reality has become a viable part of numerous surgical procedures and other forms of medical care. Rather than training surgeons using the knowledge of sales reps and some handy clandestine googling, VR training allows surgeons to practice new techniques — over and over again, without any danger to a living patient.

Prior to the use of VR in surgical training, simulators existed to help facilitate practice, but these typically focused on one procedure and could be highly expensive to acquire. That’s why VR, which is portable, affordable, and accessible to everyone, has become a way for surgeons to learn and practice using only a small headset and hand controllers.

The question for the medical establishment is whether these VR simulations are actually helping to impart knowledge and hone skills. A number of researchers at major medical institutions throughout the United States have begun to validate these training programs as useful and appropriate for broader use.

Similarly, augmented reality has also brought forward new pathways to learning and training for surgeons. Using a “telementor” who can see and comment on the procedure in real-time has allowed for faster and more targeted assistance mid-procedure. Rather than needing to call or email the description of a scenario or a question, the telementor can watch and advise as needed, at any point.

In the operating room itself, AR has opened up a new way for surgeons to see their patients — literally. Because this technology allows surgeons to see inside a patient’s body, surgical precision is increased, and procedures are more effective.