We’ve been following the proliferation of virtual reality technology in medicine, and were delighted by the study last year showing video-game playing enhances a surgeon’s performance. So it’s no surprise that hospitals are investing money in high-end VR simulators for their surgeons. Here’s one new report out of Oregon Health & Science University:
The Department of Surgery recently won a $50,000 grant from the Oregon Simulation Alliance to purchase a state-of-the-art virtual reality laparoscopic surgery simulator, the LSW 3.0. The device, created by Surgical Science of Stockholm, Sweden, emulates, with a high degree of accuracy, the anatomy of organs and tissues and fills what has been until now a significant void in virtual reality simulators, according to OHSU Chairman of Surgery John Hunter, M.D. – the ability to feel when you’ve made a mistake.
“With earlier simulators, you couldn’t ‘feel’ when you were touching something. Now, if your surgical instrument contacts ‘virtual’ tissue, you will feel it. The instruments give you force feedback in your hands that mimics how tissue and blood vessels feel and behave in real life. That’s a great advance in simulators and a tremendous advantage for training our surgeons,” said Hunter, co-director of the OHSU Digestive Health Center and a pioneer in laparoscopic surgery.
The tremendous advantage Hunter is referencing has long been established: a 2002 Yale study published in the Annals of Surgery showed surgical residents trained to perform laparoscopic surgery using the first iteration of virtual reality simulators, known as MIST VR trainers, were more proficient and made fewer errors in the operating room than those who received no virtual reality simulated education.