Live Virtual Reality Surgical Operation Really Happened
VR technology is now letting us relive moments from the past, visit alien worlds and view our world from above. Just last week, VR was taken to another new level as the first live surgical operation VR experience actually happened. Dr. Shafi Ahmed performed a real live surgery on a patient at Royal London NHS hospital in the UK. If you get queazy easily, this probably wasn’t an experience you’d like to view.
Otherwise, you would love it.
People were able to view with a Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard headset.
Two 360-degree cameras obtained the live footage as Dr. Ahmed worked on a 70- year old patient who had colon cancer. The footage was sent to an app called VRinOR which is accessible on Google Play and App Stores.
Viewers that utilized the Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard were able to change between each camera in real time as Dr. Ahmed and fellow surgeons performed the surgery. People that don’t have a VR headset, were still able to view the surgery in 360-degree video on their site and be simply tilting their cell phones to see throughout the room.
The app and the actual event, were created by Medical Realities, a company that utilizes virtual reality, 360-degree and 3D videos to help train medical students. The cameras were supplied by Mativision, an immersive video specialist company that’s mostly known for filming the stage performances of Slash (the guitarist) and Muse. Mativision said that the goal of the VR surgery was “not to present close-ups, nor microscopic imagery”, rather to “give the feeling of actually being in the room.”
The company is planning on making changes for future surgeries to offer more to viewers, such as patient diagnostics, close up views and believe it or not – a video taken inside the body.
Steve Dann, the co founder of Medical Realities, thinks that the more complex views will be especially helpful for training new surgeons. He said, “What we can do right now, it’s based around filming real operations. Then we’ll transition over to creating a completely believable CGI environment you can inhabit. Finally, when the technology has caught up with what we want to do, we can add haptic feedback.”
Medical Realities has created 3D video of operations in the past to help train students. However, they were more simple operations. The simulators that are further advanced, will help students hone their skills and learn how to deal with crisis situations.
The main surgeon, Dr. Ahmed, thinks that this type of technology is essentially going to allow surgeons and doctors throughout the world, particularly in developing countries, to utilize virtual reality to watch a surgery to really learn without having to travel.
Dr. Ahmed said, “In an operating theatre you have noises going on, you have stress levels, you have things going wrong, you have people passing things to you. Everything’s around you and it’s hard to train people in that. It really is because, unless you’re in that environment, you don’t know how to behave. “With immersion you learn how to behave professionally with your colleagues and how a team functions. Suddenly that whole learning environment becomes much greater than it would have been with a [conventional] simulation, which you can’t create unless you’re in a VR immersive world.” This isn’t the first time Dr. Ahmed has utilized technology to enable people to watch his surgical experience. In 2014, he used Google Glass as he removed tumors from a 78 year old patient. That was shown to over 13,000 medical students to help them view through the eye of a surgeon.
The rise of VR is going to help train medical students and give anyone the ability (whose interested) to view a surgical operation in a realistic way.