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How Is Virtual Reality Going to Change Surgery?

Virtual reality is just for games and having fun, right? Wrong. Virtual reality can be a useful tool in many ways, including in healthcare. It already has several uses related to surgery, and its usefulness in this area continues to grow.

Using Imaging and Other Data

When planning for surgery, surgeons examine all available imaging and other data ahead of time so they’ll have the clearest possible picture of what’s going on with that particular patient. However, this doesn’t allow the surgeon to see everything at the same time. Virtual reality has the potential to change that, allowing surgeons to visualize potential obstacles by overlaying imaging data and relevant information.

The ramifications of this are tremendous. For example, if there’s a problem, a doctor could access information to the surgery in real-time without taking focus away from the patient. That could reduce problems, improve patient safety, reduce the patient’s time under anesthesia, and improve outcomes.

Training Surgeons

Virtual reality is already playing a role in educating future surgeons. Training programs allow their instructors to use virtual reality to lead them inside a brain where they can view aneurysms, deformities, or tumors, and learn how to operate on them. This allows them to learn about all of this in a much more comprehensive way, and it prepares them more fully for the field.

That preparation also can happen long after medical school, especially when they’re facing complex or unfamiliar cases. Telementoring makes use of augmented reality, a form of virtual reality, to allow a surgeon mentor to see what the surgeon is seeing and provide tailored guidance. This could be helpful in so many ways, including when few surgeons have expertise with a particular type of operation or when surgical care is limited in a region.

Simulating Surgery

What if surgeons could practice a particular surgery ahead of time? With virtual reality, they can. A few days before tugging on surgical gloves to slice open a patient’s brain, doctors at Stanford University slip on virtual reality goggles to help prepare for the risky procedure. This is now, and it’s not available everywhere, but it promises to be more widespread in the future.

What if multiple surgeons will be involved in a particular procedure? Virtual reality has an answer for that, too. One type of virtual reality allows multiple surgeons to work together in virtual reality so they can train as a team. This could be especially helpful for surgeons who have never worked together and need to come together as a team quickly.

A New Reality

At 365 Healthcare Staffing Services, we specialize in the recruitment and placement of healthcare professionals in per diem, travel, and permanent assignments in healthcare facilities across the country. Virtual reality is a new reality in the OR; if you’re looking for a new reality in your work life, we’re here to help. Call us at 310.436.3650, and let’s get started.