Virtual reality surgery

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Surgeons are able to look at all angles of a patient's tumor from inside the skull with virtual reality and 3-D modeling.

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

Vreeken says, "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."

Dr. Alison Crum, University of Utah Hospital says, "The growth was in his eye socket, but it was also growing back toward the brain."

Dr. Crum got additional insight into Vreeken's surgery, with virtual reality and this 3-D model.

Neuroradiologist Edward Quigley and his team made both using small slices of Vreeken's CT and MRI scans.

Dr. Quigley, University of Utah Health says, "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."

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

Veeken says, "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."

Dr. Quigley III says, "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 says 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 3-D modeling for surgeons to use. Also, Vreeken 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.
 


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