The possibilities for virtual reality are endless. When this technology first hit the market in the form of Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, most people cast it aside as a means of playing video games and nothing more. Fast forward a couple decades later and virtual reality is now being used for all sorts of different purposes. One such purpose is improving medical treatment.

Virtual Reality Surgery

Virtual reality has become so detailed that programmers are now making virtual surgery simulations. Surgeons will soon practice complex surgeries with virtual reality headsets before performing the operations on actual patients. Virtual surgeries are currently occurring on SpectoVive VR. Created by the engineering geniuses at the University of Basel, SpectoVive allows surgeons to practice surgeries on a three-dimensional model of faux human bodies. Surgeons perform a VR “test run” to identify particularly challenging components of an upcoming surgery. Even the most simple surgery can be ameliorated with a practice run beforehand.

SpectoVive makes use of the HTC Vive virtual reality technology along with its highly responsive controllers. Surgeons use these controllers to hold, move, turn and scale each anatomical section as desired. This pre-surgery analysis empowers surgeons to understand the exact nuances of real-world surgeries they must perform in the following minutes, hours or days.

What a Time to be Alive!

Take a moment to let this reality sink in. We are living in a point in history when surgeons don virtual reality headsets to examine three-dimensional anatomical structures from all angles, practice a surgical procedure and then perform that procedure on an actual human patient. Few imagined we would have this type of technology at this point in time.

The most amazing aspect of virtual reality surgery is the fact that the three-dimensional models are dynamic rather than static. This is to say the surgeon can interact with the models. It is one thing to view a three-dimensional anatomical structure from an array of angles and a totally different thing to alter its composition with a virtual surgical procedure. As an example, surgeons can use scissor tools to cut directly into a virtual patient’s fake human body. Once a body site is cut, all of the layers can be examined in-depth through the virtual reality system.

The programmers of this technology have even gone as far as making it possible for surgeons and medical students to take CT scans as well as X-rays in an instantaneous manner. It would be quite disappointing if the technology did not mimic the visual detail and reactions of a true human body. Yet SpectoVive really does replicate actual human bodies and their responses to surgical procedures. The developers behind this game-changing virtual reality technology made use of tomography data to construct images in real-time. The result is a vividly detailed virtual human body that can be viewed from numerous angles and interacted with in the moment.

How SpectoVive VR Surgery Simulators Will be Used

Look for medical schools to go “all in” on virtual reality surgery simulators. The existing program is detailed enough to provide hands-on experience that one can’t obtain from a textbook. Furthermore, it is challenging to coordinate in-person surgery observations of actual surgeries. Medical students can learn just as much from SpectoVive’s accurate surgery simulator from the comfort of their classroom or even their home.

Professional surgeons will also make use of SpectoVive. In fact, some of them were relied upon to create the program’s true-to-life imagery and physics. This technology will undoubtedly improve surgery success rates. It will also put many nervous patients at ease as they will know their surgeon progressed through a virtual surgery practice session before picking up a “real-world” knife.


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