Virtual Reality Could Help Reduce Surgical Errors

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: January 21, 2021

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is making waves in the gaming community, but it’s also proving useful in other arenas, like in healthcare. According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, surgical residents who use virtual reality technology as part of their education and training may be less likely to commit errors during surgery.

For the study, a randomized group of 4th and 5th year residents were provided with one of two training methods. One group underwent training through PrecisionOS immersive virtual reality, which allowed them to practice techniques and have a more hands-on education of certain procedures and methods. The other group underwent standard technical video instruction.

When comparing the two groups, researchers found that orthopedic surgery residents who underwent the immersive virtual reality training demonstrated significant improvements in knowledge and procedural metrics compared to the control group. Other findings from the study include:

  • The control group demonstrated 50 percent more critical errors than the virtual reality group.
  • VR training could reduce the learning curve by up to 50 cases.
  • An immersive virtual reality session was as effective as 47.4 minutes of equivalent training in the operating room.
  • Virtual reality training is at least 34 times less expensive than conventional training methods.

“VR surgery training is scalable, cost effective, and now shown to be highly effective in skill transfer,” said Taha Jangda, general partner at HealthX Ventures. “With COVID detouring surgical training, VR options from companies such as PrecisionOS will become the new training standard for decades to come.”

The VR technology includes modules in spine surgery, so it’s very possible that the next wave of spine surgeons will have extensive hands-on training through these VR platforms before they ever have to perform a live operation. It’s also possible that more experienced surgeons can hone their craft using virtual reality, which could be especially helpful given the complex nature of spine surgeries.

Furthermore, as VR technology continues to progress, it’s likely that surgeons will be able to practice highly specific procedures before operating on a patient. For example, VR programs may eventually be able to interpret MRI results and allow for a spine surgeon to practice removing the exact type of spinal tumor that their patient is dealing with before performing the operation in real life. This practice could in theory greatly improve outcomes and allow surgeons to account for potential obstacles to surgery success before the patient is on the table.

We’re excited to see where virtual reality and VR training go from here, but in the meantime, if you need help with your back pain from a surgeon who has performed thousands of real-life spine surgeries, trust your care to Dr. Sinicropi and his team.

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