Using Immersive Virtual Reality Software for Surgical Education

How surgeons are using virtual reality technology to simulate digital operating rooms and complex medical procedures to improve patient outcomes.

Kristopher Sturgis

January 25, 2019

3 Min Read
Using Immersive Virtual Reality Software for Surgical Education

When it comes to training for medical procedures, sometimes failure is the only path toward eventual success. The problem with taking that approach in surgical training is that, oftentimes, human life hangs in the balance — making failure not much of an option. Precision OS, a new orthopedic technology company out of Vancouver, is hoping to change that with their latest technology that aims to provide a virtual reality platform that can simulate the entire surgical experience.

“Precision OS is the most high-fidelity virtual reality platform for orthopedic surgeons to practice specific procedures,” said Danny P, Goel, CEO and co-founder of Precision OS Technology. “We simulate real-life experiences — from minor complications to critical mistakes — to empower surgeons to reach peak performance through real-time feedback.”

Goel said that practicing surgery using virtual reality will not only help surgeons improve technique, but it will also make surgical practice more accessible and insightful than traditional alternatives. Surgeons simply put on a virtual reality headset, and with two VR controllers, enter the virtual operating room to practice a procedure. Using gestures and hand movements to navigate through intricately designed training modules based on real patient pathologies, surgeons can actually go through a real surgical workflow that includes the same steps as a real operation.

The technology also provides performance metrics after every action performed in the virtual operating room, as well as robust feedback on overall performance once they’ve completed the entire operation. And, as Goel said, these training programs are not designed to be simple.

“The modules aren’t made to be easy,” he said. “Success in a Precision module takes the same elite level of focus and decision making as a real orthopedic procedure. Every detail is realistic, from hand position to the feeling of drilling into bone. The emphasis is on both the cognitive and technical aspects of surgery — elements that we are unable to combine in real life when trying to improve surgical skill.”

More and more developers are working with virtual reality technologies, as they offer significant educational advantages to medical training, particularly in the area of surgery. In the past, surgeons have had limited tools available to help them train for surgery. For decades, the main method of surgical training has been the practice of using cadavers — which provides limited educational opportunity and can be extremely costly.

Meanwhile, Goel said that virtual reality technologies offer a potential paradigm shift in the acquisition of technical expertise and performance. Given the power of this technology, a careful and thoughtful approach has the ability to completely impact not only surgical education, but competency assessment and screening for potential future surgeons as well.

“The opportunities and applications for virtual reality on the healthcare system are on the horizon,” Goel said. “As the technology evolves, and the utility of virtual reality is demonstrated, I anticipate its use will become ubiquitous. And while virtual reality software is currently available for surgeon use as a training tool, much more is required to realize the impact of virtual reality to the patients and the system. To truly impact and improve medical procedures, a scientific and critical mentality to the delivery of VR methods needs to be undertaken. This social responsibility of content creation, benefit to users, and the impact to patients is a founding principal at Precision OS.”

About the Author(s)

Kristopher Sturgis

Kristopher Sturgis is a freelance contributor to MD+DI.

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