The entertainment industry popularised Virtual and Augmented Reality, but now, they're providing a valuable contribution to healthcare, from university classrooms to the operating theatre. In this mini-revew, you'll find notable examples of the application of Virtual and Augmented Reality in different contexts.
Digital technologies are revolutionising healthcare faster than ever, and sometimes, the (r)evolution has unexpected origins. The entertainment industry, for instance, popularised technologies that are now providing a valuable contribution to healthcare, such as Virtual and Augmented Reality. In the first case, virtual objects are displayed and managed inside a virtual environment, while in the latter, there's an integration of virtual objects into the real world.
Such technologies can be employed to train new generations of doctors, providing unprecedented detail in learning about the human body. Even experienced surgeons can benefit from them to train or re-train themselves on complex procedures, allowing for better results at lower risks for the patient. Such examples include laparoscopy, orthopaedics, maxillo-facial, and even eye surgery.
But the advantages also reach out to the operating room. A collaboration among surgeons and biomedical engineers from the Great Hormond Hospital for Children (GOSH) and the University College of London (UCL) is allowing better cures for young patients. The biomedical engineer Dr Claudio Capelli and colleagues developed a Virtual Reality tool focused on cardiovascular applications for clinical and educational use. The procedure starts with the imaging data derived from Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (MRI) or Computed Tomography Scan (TC), which allows the reconstruction of a model of the patient's heart. Such a model can be 3D printed or displayed in a 3D environment. The medical equipe can then examine the heart in every detail, taking a view from the inside or assessing the effective distance from any different point. Such an approach was successfully applied for the treatment of different cases, like the separation of conjoined twins, heart surgery on a patient with Marfan syndrome, and two cases of double outlet right ventricle (DORV), a condition in which the aorta and the pulmonary artery don't connect to the usual places in the heart and, at the same time, there's also a hole between the two lower heart chambers, called ventricles. Such congenital condition is treated with a surgery complicated by the young age of the patients. In this case, the contribution of Virtual Reality can prove itself very impactful for doctors and patients.
Follow these links for more information:
- Pergolizzi Jr, Joseph, Jo Ann K. LeQuang, Ingrid Vasiliu-Feltes, Frank Breve, and Giustino Varrassi. "Brave New Healthcare: A Narrative Review of Digital Healthcare in American Medicine." Cureus 15, no. 10 (2023).
- Li, Lan, Fei Yu, Dongquan Shi, Jianping Shi, Zongjun Tian, Jiquan Yang, Xingsong Wang, and Qing Jiang. "Application of virtual reality technology in clinical medicine." American journal of translational research 9, no. 9 (2017): 3867.
- Belitsis, Georgios, Endrit Pajaziti, Silvia Schievano, Claudio Capelli, Andrew Cook, and Martin Kostolny. "Use of virtual reality in complex double outlet right ventricle cases." Multimedia Manual of Cardiothoracic Surgery: MMCTS 2022 (2022).