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How VR is transforming medical field

Picture this, a doctor with virtual reality goggles on and controllers in their hand, but they’re not playing games, they’re saving lives.

Originally x-rays and MRIs, to 3-D printed organs, now surgeons at OSF JUMP Simulation Center use 3-D medical imaging and virtual reality to immerse themselves in pictures of a specific patient’s vital organ. By doing this, they get to learn the ins, outs, and all-overs of that one person’s organ that needs to be operated on.

“When we take these standard medical images and convert them into 3-D models, first 3-D print and now virtual reality, we’re giving the surgeon improved mental representation of what they’re going to encounter before they go to the OR,” said Dr. Matthew Bramlet, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at OSF.

For example, if you’re going to have heart surgery, your doctor would order several images of your heart, and it will be shown as a 3-D picture in a virtual reality setting. Your doctor can see the problem, turn the heart image in every direction, and find the best route to conquer your operation.

They started using virtual reality in 2017 and it was used primarily on pediatric patient tumors, now they’re broadening the scope to any complex anatomy that needs help.

“It’s growing, we’re doing more and more neurosurgical, brain, and other large tumors and other disease processes where complex anatomy is the key feature.” said Bramlet.

Bramlet said that surgeons say “they felt like they’ve been there before” when they’re operating on a patient for the first time. He also said that it provides a whole new level of comfort and confidence for, not only surgeons, but families of patients, that they can’t achieve in any other format.

OSF JUMP Simulation Center offers this in-depth imaging to anyone, even patients not in OSF’s care. For more information on virtual reality in the medical field, visit the OSF Newsroom. Central Illinois

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