Virtual Reality Applications for Surgery

Virtual Reality Applications for Surgery

By Dr. Jeffery Smoot, Sr. Technical Trainer, Medtronic [NYSE:MDT]

Dr. Jeffery Smoot, Sr. Technical Trainer, Medtronic [NYSE:MDT]

History of Surgical procedures

Surgery dates back to ancient times, with the first recorded surgery recorded by the Egyptians. Even though the techniques have changed the philosophical foundation in some ways are still the same. The instruments used have changed, from Scalpels to Electro-Surgical Units from Blood to Bloodless the modern surgery has revolutionized healthcare. Endoscopy units, which allows Physicians to look inside of the body from an external point of view,are one of the ways the evolution of these new procedures and other factors have presented the opportunities for the reduction of surgery recovery times. Certain procedures, which required hospital stays for patients, are now done as anoutpatient. In addition, the recovery times have been reduced because of minimally invasive procedures reduce the possibility of infections. The progression of the modern surgical procedures in healthcare have been slow, however, with the advent and constant development of Gaming this has infused new technological that hopesaids in the development and modernization of this sector of healthcare. The development of Virtual Reality has opened up infinite possibilities.

Development of Virtual Reality

The industry of Virtual Reality although new to many has been around in some form or fashion since the 1800’s in the form of Stereoscopic photographs and viewers. By presenting different images for each eye and looking through a stereoscopic view. The principles are still the same and are used in Google Cardboard and low budget VR headsets. By viewing two images side by side gave the user the perception of depth and immersion. The development of Head Mounted Displays (HMD) revolutionized the industry by allowing more flexibility in the functionality of the system. In 1987 Virtual Reality Haptics was developed, haptics involves the incorporation of hand sensory.The first fifteen years of the 21st century has influenced the advancement in the development of virtual reality. The development of the smartphone technology with high-density displays and 3D capabilities has brought not only accessibility but also affordability to the VR industry. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are two areas that are interchanged but are quite different. Augmented Reality involves literally augmenting reality with virtual information (Virtual Reality Society). Virtual Worlds allow you to manipulate the world around you and can often feature objects that can be manipulated. These advancements have been perfected in the Video Gaming industry. Some experts believe that the use of Virtual Reality will increase by 60% over the next two years (Yeti, 2016)

Development of VR in Surgery

Virtual Reality industry has made way to the healthcare industry. One of the areas that are growing is Surgery. The rising cost of healthcare coupled with services provided has sent experts reeling to find more effective and efficient ways to apply new technologies that leads to more accurate diagnosis, which in turn presents quicker recovery times while generating revenue. The development of surgical procedures are still in the early stages as a whole butis steadily increasing. Currently, the major areas benefiting from Virtual Reality procedures are Cardiac, Colorectal, General, Gynecological, Head & Neck, Thoracic and Urological with the use in other areas constantly being developed.Usually, with these procedures, the use of total immersive environmentsare used to perform most or all of the procedure. Total immersion allows the user to be placed in a virtual environment. The DaVinci Surgical unit by Intuitive Surgical is the system of choice.The DaVinci unit allows the viewing of a 3D virtual environment externally while the manipulation of surgical tools internally. The surgical instruments are called Rods. While the practitioner is viewing from a console that produces a high-resolution Virtual environment of the internal patient, the surgical instruments are controlled by loops around the fingers of the practitioner. The surgical instruments (which are internal) have a 360-degree rotation degree of movement (DOM). This system requires surgeons to have a tremendous amount of simulated training some of the leaders in this new technology estimate two hundred procedures for a surgeon to become proficient. The training on the DaVinci is not time or cost efficient for surgeons, therefore, simulator such as Mimic dvTrainer or the Simbionix RobotX Mentor were created to reduce training cost while still providing a real-life feel for the training. The DaVinci is one of the most widely used units to date. Another area is in the wearable technologies. Head Based Devices (HBD) such as Oculus, GearVR, and Google Glass. Head Based Devices are being used to integrate with technologies like cellphones to provide physicians real-time statistics like vital signs of a patient in different areas. A major medical equipment company performed a pilot study where a surgeon could see the vital signs of a patient in ICU through Google glass. Another use of Virtual Reality in Surgery is in the area of using VR for Simulated training for Surgery. In a study performed by Kahn and associates,the researcher used a Simulation-based training for Prostate Surgery. The objective of this study was to identify and review current simulators for prostate surgery and to explore the evidence supporting their validity for training purposes. These methods that were used to carry out this research were not only prostate surgery using robotics but Virtual Reality was used to create an artificial environment for training surgeons to perform prostate surgery. VR simulators have added benefits for usability and provide statistical feedback through an objective performance evaluation report, whereas physical simulators lack a quantifiable inherent means of measuring performance. 

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