A hospital in Beijing is pioneering the use of virtual reality (VR) technology to help train doctors to perform heart surgeries.
Researchers from Fuwai Hospital, under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, have built a 3D heart model with typical CT images of heart disease patients. They routed the 3D model to a head-mounted display through VR software developed by a Hangzhou company.
Users equipped with a headset and a motion controller will not only get a 360-degree view of the anatomic structure of a patient's heart but can also interact with some virtual features.
Last year, 18 doctors from the hospital participated in a 10-month VR training program.
"The VR images look more vivid than pictures on paper or on computers," said 33-year-old participant Zhong Zhaoji. "The system enabled me to observe all parts, experience virtual cutting, and even move around in the virtual heart."
Fan Hongguang, a cardiac surgeon and head of the training program, said that to have a clear understanding of a heart's structure and its relationship with other organs was not easy but very important to a surgery. Some deformities in severe congenital heart diseases often confuse new surgeons.
He believes the VR system can help young doctors master heart surgery faster.
Next, researchers and experts will further enhance the technology, enrich the training courses and establish a VR-assisted surgery platform.
Fuwai Hospital is China's leading hospital specializing in cardiovascular diseases, and performs over 10,000 surgeries every year.
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