New virtual reality technology is giving doctors a chance to practice life-saving surgeries on infants.
According to CBS Miami, in 2015, four doctors in Miami managed to perform their own Christmas miracle for one set of parents, with the help of a Google Cardboard headset, when they helped save the life of their infant daughter.
Teegan Lexcen was born with only half a heart and one lung. Doctors claimed that her case was completely inoperable, but her brave parents weren’t willing to accept that and sought the help of doctors at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami to save their four-month-old daughter.
In order to save Teegan, her doctors scanned her heart and lung, then uploaded the images onto a smartphone and viewed them through Google’s Cardboard virtual reality headset so they could practice the intricate and difficult surgery.
Thankfully, Teegan’s seven-hour surgery was a success and her doctors credited virtual reality as a key part of the amazing outcome.
Unfortunately despite the success, Lexcen’s surgery was only a one-off case. Currently, the larger medical community isn’t sure whether virtual reality can improve the results of surgery anymore than already existing technologies, and it will take time for the benefits of virtual reality to become widespread.
In an interview with Mic, Dr. Jason C. Fisher, a paediatric surgeon and physician at New York University, Langone Medical Centre claimed that 3-D printed models are already proving valuable as tools for planning surgeries.
I think what we really want to see, to know, is that virtual reality is something that is a) here to stay in surgery, and b) something worth investing in.
However, he did have high hopes for the future of VR, although it’s not 3-D visualisations that have him excited. Instead it’s the potential for real-time virtual reality surgeries. Fisher dreams of a day where a surgeon can put on a headset that will help them see inside the organ they want to operate on in real-time.
You’re superman! You can see through the liver rather than having to make cuts and get into bleeding and do all these things, and that is where I think that technology can make us into superhumans. And that, I think, is going to be a real game changer… But it would be speculative for me to say that anything like that is being developed.
Even so, we can probably expect that, in the near future, virtual reality will be able to complement 3-D printed models, and allow doctors to have a more complete view of a patient’s insides allowing for safer surgeries.