Science 4 min read

Surgeons Filmed VR Brain Surgery for the Very First Time

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While most people believe that virtual reality is best used in gaming, a group of surgeons used it to film the very first VR brain surgery.

You might assume being a neurosurgeon comes with a lot of challenges. One of which involves getting actual hands-on experience of brain surgery in the operating room. Now, things are about to get better, thanks to a team of neurosurgeons who created the first VR brain surgery film.

First #VR brain surgery filmed by surgeons at the Royal London Hospital!Click To Tweet

“Neurosurgery is probably one of the most inaccessible surgical specialties there is, especially from the point of view of the patients and public,” says Alex Alamri, a surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust.

“They can experience a certain element of neurophobia where anything to do with the brain is quite scary.”

Changing Medical Studies Through VR Brain Surgery

Alamri and his colleagues at The Royal London Hospital partnered with FundamentalVR, a company which specializes in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality experiences, to film the first VR brain surgery in the history of medicine.

According to reports, the team used 360-degree cameras in the operating theater and strapped GoPros to the head of the surgeons to capture the remarkable experience. The film is posted below, and it is best viewed using a virtual reality headset. However, we would like to warn you that it is really graphic, so viewer discretion is advised.

“Detailed views of the procedure, captured on head cameras and not for the squeamish, are shown on a virtual screen in the operating theater, and it’s possible to look around the entire theater in 360-degrees.”

In the experience, people will be able to follow along with surgeons as a patient is wheeled into the operating room and undergoes a real neurological procedure. The operation focuses on the repair of two aneurysms or balloon-like bulges in the arteries that could rupture at anytime.

According to Alamri, aneurysm repair procedure is “one of the most invasive neurosurgical treatments there is.” The VR brain surgery was filmed successfully, and the procedure went as planned. Alamri hopes that it would help students and the public further understand neurosurgery.

“Hopefully from all points of view: a tech one, an education point of view, and a brain aneurysm awareness point of view it hits all three nails on the head.”

Apparently, the VR brain surgery film was part of a much bigger initiative called Brainbook, which features recorded videos of different brain surgeries to help medical students.

This time, FundamentalVR supported the program by developing a VR system that will allow people “to conduct virtual surgeries and uses haptic feedback to provide real-time responses to what surgeons feel during procedures.”

According to Chris Scattergood, co-founder of FundamentalVR, they are aiming to create a ‘flight simulator’ for surgeons that will enable them to “practice and feel the tissue types” involved in different surgery scenarios.

FundamentalVR also believes that filming the 360 VR brain surgery with The Royal London Hospital and NHS Trust is the first step for the company to develop a virtual reality training tool for the brain aneurysm procedure.

Right now, Alamri and his team are already planning on creating other experimental neuroscience videos in both VR and conventional format. He said:

“If we can get some emergency neurosurgency coming in through the front door, seeing how that is initially treated and then going up to the operating theatre that would be another good step.”

Do you agree that virtual reality could potentially improve different fields of studies such as medicine? Where else do you think it would be helpful? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

Comments (2)
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  1. Maxime Ros September 13 at 7:25 pm GMT

    Very interesting !
    Btw Revinax immersive tutorial for learning are much more powerfull. They recorded the first VR brain surgery 2 years ago and are launching a platform with 50 surgeries in two months. It’s worth jeeping in touch with this team.

    • Brett Forsberg September 13 at 8:44 pm GMT

      Awesome insight! I’m checking out Revinax now.

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