Doctors could perform life-saving surgeries faster by using virtual reality goggles to ‘warm up’ in advance like athletes. Experts are working on converting scans of a patient’s body to create virtual model that can be seen through VR goggles.
Surgeons could then use these goggles to simulate their procedure ahead of time.
Scientists believe that using special VR headsets they are developing to do just that could help to cut operating times by six per cent.
Doctors could perform life-saving surgeries faster by using virtual reality goggles to ‘warm up’ in advance like athletes, according to new research (stock)
Scientists believe that using special VR headsets they are developing to do just that could help to cut operating times by six per cent
A team of researchers, including from the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, found that surgeons progressively ‘warm-up’ as they repeat a specific procedure on their operating list throughout the day.
They liken this to the way an athlete’s performance improves across a competition.
Experts now hope to build on the findings by trying to identify a technique or process that would let surgeons undertake their warm up before they perform an operation.
Many surgeons already prepare for surgery by looking at images, video scans and 3D anatomical models.
An earlier study by researchers at the University of Leeds found that surgical trainees who were using a 3D model were better prepared for a surgical procedure.
Going through a VR simulation of a procedure first thing in the morning could lead to even greater improvements, experts say.
Dr Faisal Mushtaq, psychologist at the University of Leeds and co-author of the study, said: ‘Many surgeons have their own routines for preparing for surgery.
Experts are working on converting scans of a patient’s body to create virtual model that can be seen through VR goggles (stock)
‘What we need to try and determine is whether it is possible, or even practical, to design a warm-up routine for surgeons – and if so, for this to be part of standard hospital practice.
‘The use of VR will allow surgeons to practice in a virtual environment and technology will allow these virtual images to be turned into ‘holograms’ that can be overlaid on top of a real tumour in theatre.
‘This will help the surgical team to plan and visualise the processes involved in the procedure they are about to carry out before the first incision.
WHAT IS A MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI) SCAN?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body.
An MRI scanner is a large tube that contains powerful magnets. You lie inside the tube during the scan.
An MRI scan can be used to examine almost any part of the body, including the brain and spinal cord, bones and joints, breasts, heart and blood vessels and internal organs – such as the liver, womb or prostate gland.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. An MRI scanner is a large tube that contains powerful magnets. You lie inside the tube during the scan
The results of an MRI scan can be used to help diagnose conditions, plan treatments and assess how effective previous treatment has been.
Most of the human body is made up of water molecules, which consist of hydrogen and oxygen atoms. At the centre of each hydrogen atom is an even smaller particle, called a proton. Protons are like tiny magnets and are very sensitive to magnetic fields.
When you lie under the powerful scanner magnets, the protons in your body line up in the same direction, in the same way that a magnet
can pull the needle of a compass.
Short bursts of radio waves are then sent to certain areas of the body, knocking the protons out of alignment. When the radio waves are turned off, the protons realign. This sends out radio signals, which are picked up by receivers.
These signals provide information about the exact location of the protons in the body. They also help to distinguish between the various types of tissue in the body, because the protons in different types of tissue realign at different speeds and produce distinct signals.
In the same way that millions of pixels on a computer screen can create complex pictures, the signals from the millions of protons in the body are combined to create a detailed image of the inside of the body.
‘We hope this new technology will help surgeons perform at an elite level in every operation.’
Researchers analysed the outcomes of 255,757 operations carried out a chain of 38 private hospitals run by Spire Healthcare.
They discovered that medical professionals got progressively faster while carrying out 34 out of the 35 most common procedures, which they repeated several times during a day.
The authors of the study say surgeons should look at re-ordering their operating lists, starting their day with the simpler cases and building up to the more difficult ones.
Experts are working on converting MRI and PET scans of a patient’s brain into virtual objects that surgeons are able to see and interact with (stock)
And rather than having a mix of cases, surgeons should try and group similar cases together so they are repeatedly performing the same procedure.
Doing so, according to the researchers, would result in surgeons completing operations more quickly, reducing costly theatre time and potentially improving patient outcomes.
For each operation, the time saved was quite small but scaled up across an average hospital over a year it was estimated to amount to around 24 days of operating theatre time.
The recommendations could free up enough time for an extra 50,000 NHS operations a year, if these saving were reflected across the service, according to reports in The Times.
Similar savings could be made in hospitals around the world who adopt the technique.
The full findings of the study were published in the British Journal of Surgery.
WHAT IS A POSITRON EMISSION TOMOGRAPHY (PET) SCAN?
Positron emission tomography (PET) scans are used to produce detailed three-dimensional images of the inside of the body.
The images can clearly show the part of the body being investigated, including any abnormal areas, and can highlight how well certain functions of the body are working.
PET scans are often combined with CT scans to produce even more detailed images. This is known as a PET-CT scan.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scans are used to produce detailed three-dimensional images of the inside of the body. The images can clearly show the part of the body being investigated, including any abnormal areas
They may also occasionally be combined with an MRI scan (known as a PET-MRI scan).
PET scanners work by detecting the radiation given off by a substance injected into your arm called a radiotracer as it collects in different parts of your body.
In most PET scans a radiotracer called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) is used, which is similar to naturally occurring glucose (a type of sugar) so your body treats it in a similar way.
By analysing the areas where the radiotracer does and doesn’t build up, it’s possible to work out how well certain body functions are working and identify any abnormalities.
For example, a concentration of FDG in the body’s tissues can help identify cancerous cells because cancer cells use glucose at a much faster rate than normal cells.