Virtual reality improves complex surgeries

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – In most cases, surgeons rely on 2D images from CT scans and MRI’s to plan even the most complex surgeries. But now, radiologists and surgeons are using virtual reality and 3D models to educate both the medical team and the patient.

James Vreeken wasn’t worried when a couple of lumps appeared on his forehead, but things got worse.

“It was just bothering me more and more and I’d get headaches all the time and bloody noses and I just definitely thought something was wrong,” he said.

“The growth was in his eye socket, but it was also growing back toward the brain,” explained Allison Crum, MD, an Oculoplastics Surgeon at University of Utah Hospital.

Crum got additional insight into James’ surgery, with virtual reality and this 3D model.

Neuroradiologist Edward Quigley and his team made both using small slices of James’ CT and MRI scans.

“We talked about components that surgeons or trainees would want to see, like they would want to see a potential blood vessel or where the optic nerve was or how displaced something was. So that sort of changed how we selected the components to put to build into the model,” said Edward P. Quigley III, MD, PhD, Neuroradiology, Radiology and Imaging Sciences at University of Utah Medical Center.

For now, these high-tech tools are just for education for medical teams and patients. James isn’t sure he’d have agreed to surgery if he hadn’t seen the model. But his surgery was a success.

“Just being able to have that confidence in the doctors and being able to see exactly what they were going to do like, really helped,” said Vreeken.

“As we move forward, anything which decreases surgical time, time in the operating room, or makes trainees and residents feel more comfortable can all help patient care,” Dr. Quigley explained.

Quigley said this technology is starting to be part of pre-surgical planning in a few research settings around the country.

The FDA has not yet approved virtual reality or 3D modeling for surgeons to use. Also, James is free of headaches, and any structural or visual problems that could have come from removing such a large tumor from his eye. His tumor was not cancerous.

Contributors to this news report include: Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.