Stanford University to Implement Virtual Reality Platform for Enhanced Patient Engagement

By HITC Staff

Stanford University, Department of Neurosurgery has announced it will implement Surgical Theater’s Virtual Reality (VR) medical visualization platform to help enhance patient engagement.

Precision VR™, Surgical Theater’s VR medical visualization platform, combines leading-edge fighter jet flight simulation technology with the patient’s own anatomy scans, using medical imaging such as MRI and CT, to create a VR reconstruction of the individual patient anatomy and pathology. The technology builds upon the traditional method of the neurosurgeon pointing out the tumor or vascular abnormality on a flat, black-and-white 2D image used in most medical facilities.

This allows for multiple levels of interaction and immersion for the surgeon and the patient from swiping fingers across a touch screen to donning an Oculus Rift® or HTC Vive® VR headset.

“We see tremendous value in utilizing virtual reality across our treatment continuum especially with regards to educating patients and families about complex treatments options,” said Gary Steinberg, M.D., Ph.D., Bernard and Ronnie Lacroute-William Randolph Hearst Professor of Neurosurgery, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and the Founder and Co-Director of the Stanford Stroke Center. “Equipping our neurosurgeons with virtual reality also allows us to advance our mission of precision medicine while further personalizing our approach to solve the most challenging neurological disorders for each patient.”

Enhanced Patient Engagement & Experience

Precision VR also bridges a critical gap in patient education by allowing for increased shared decision-making opportunities, especially for those with language barriers, for children and the elderly, and for families as they are grappling with a new and bewildering diagnosis.

When wearing the VR headset, a VR-empowered patient can tour and walk into the space between vascular structures and can literally stand between arteries and the tumor. For example, when the patient will turn his head to the right, he will see the tumor; to the left, he will see the artery; looking down toward his feet, he will see the skull base. Furthermore, the VR-empowered patient can physically walk together with the surgeon down a planned surgical path or minimally invasive corridor to obtain an understanding of the safety and benefits of less invasive surgical approaches.

Professional Education & Rehearsal Functionality

Surgical Theater’s Precision VR visualization platform also delivers powerful surgical planning and navigation capabilities while providing professional education and rehearsal functionality.

Neurosurgeons, like pilots, can now “fly through” their patients’ anatomy and simulate complex operations in surgical virtual reality before making an incision. This technology is game changing for neurosurgeons because no brain is the same, especially when facing neurological disorders, including cerebrovascular diseases. In VR neurosurgical training, neurosurgery professors can lead their residents through the most challenging surgical cases. The residents hone their surgical techniques and situational awareness of the patient’s brain anatomy to optimize performance and skill acquisition thus maximizing their experience and preparedness when entering the operating room.

Surgical Theater’s enterprise-wide Precision VR is currently used at some of the top academic hospitals, including UCLA, New York University, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Mayo Clinic, Mount Sinai, and now, Stanford University.

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