Ethosh Digital recently developed a VR-based learning tool that taps real-life scenarios to provide an intuitive, interactive, and engaging platform for high-end learning.
Dr Pushkar Khair who heads Digital Healthcare at Ethosh shares his insights about VR’s importance for surgeons:
When the surgeon slips on what looks like gaming goggles rather than gloves before a complicated procedure, should the patient and the hospital administration be worried? Just the opposite!
Virtual reality (VR) has revolutionized the field of surgery, making it possible for surgeons to visualize and work around anatomical ambushes even before picking up the scalpel. VR’s three-dimensional imagery helps surgeons “plan out how we can approach a tumor and avoid critical areas like the motor cortex or the sensory areas,” according to Dr Gary Steinberg, Neurosurgeon, Stanford Medicine.
He cites a case where an artery that was attached to the top of a brain aneurysm was not visible on conventional imaging:
Had I not known about it, it could have been a real disaster.
Effectively, VR saved that patient’s life who was also able to “see” the potential complication well before the procedure and was therefore reassured that it would be taken care of.
Apparently, the use of VR technology was the reason why many patients chose Stanford over other nearby hospitals.
Dr Anand Veeravagu, head of the Stanford Neurosurgical Simulation Lab says:
“This software really helps them understand what it is they are about to undergo. Seeing it on the screen, in 3-D, really helps put a patient’s mind at ease”
Cutting-edge Surgical Training Tool
Traditionally, training surgeons and objectively measuring their skills have been a challenge. Given the rate at which medical technologies have been developing, the gap between skillset and toolset is today more pronounced than ever.
There is a constant need for surgeons (new and old) to acquire training in new technology and go for frequent refresher programs to ensure they retain the skill when the need to use a new device comes up.
According to Dr Justin Barad, when he was a surgical resident, he “watched how dependent surgeons were on medical device reps in the operating room to safely use new devices or devices they weren’t completely familiar with. Several times I was asked to help an attending surgeon by Googling how to use a device in the middle of an operation.”
Today, VR makes it possible for surgeons to work with the target organ in a three-dimensional space, view it from any angle and even switch between 3D view and the flat CT images, before and during procedures.
The current pandemic has been a reminder as to how easily the medical infrastructure can be overwhelmed by a surge in demand for cure and care. In such a scenario, technology has been lending a helping hand in both preventive and therapeutic measures.
When the world returns to an approximation of normalcy, the challenge for medical institutions will be to reinforce the infrastructure in terms of skills and facilities. There will be a dire need for technologies like VR to offer safer, surer procedures faster so that more people can benefit from limited facilities during a shorter span of time.
Simultaneously, hospitals and device makers will need to keep pace with evolving technology and provide continuous training in VR to all stakeholders ranging from surgeons to patients.