Will Virtual Reality Models Become Standard Practice in Surgical Planning?

Surgeons have the ability to visualize a patient’s anatomy—including the depth and shape of specific organs—through the use of three-dimensional (3-D) virtual reality (VR) models, and they likely will become a standard part of surgical planning.

Jay A. Redan, MD, FACS

During a session yesterday, panelists discussed how 3-D imaging and augmented reality (AR) can be used to prevent perioperative errors, specifically by improving oncologic margins, reducing blood loss, and reducing hospital length of stay.

“Hospital administrators and insurance companies are starting to realize these benefits, and they are agreeing to support this technology because they know we’re going to get better outcomes for our patients,” said Jay A. Redan, MD, FACS, session co-moderator. 

Panelists presented real-world examples of how this technology is enhancing surgical care. A radiologist based in Philadelphia described how she works with cardiac surgeons in their surgical planning to repair heart valves; another panelist described how VR and 3-D imagining is used to improve preoperative preparation for liver surgery patients in Japan.

“Multiple tools are now available for surgeons to use in AR/VR and 3-D imaging,” said Dr. Redan. “No longer do we have to ‘guess’ or figure things out on the fly, so to speak. We can preop plan, rehearse, and deconstruct potential problems that may arise in surgery ahead of the surgical case, which makes surgery safer, increases patient satisfaction with preoperative discussions, and reduces intraoperative stress.”

Dr. Redan added, “The goal here is to reduce surgical errors. We know from our history that the best place to get your errors out is in the simulation, preop training area. So, by the time we get to the surgical procedure, your errors have been discovered and therefore they won’t occur.”

The panelists all seemed to agree that as 3-D VR modeling continues to evolve, it will become the standard of care for preoperative planning, team planning, and reducing errors.

“This session served as an introduction to the kind of technology we’re all going to face in the future,” said Dr. Redan. “It’s better for surgeons to become involved early than to have to play catch-up later on.”

For those who were unable to attend PS304: Use of Virtual Reality and 3-D Imaging in Surgical Planning, the session is available for on-demand viewing.

Watch Clinical Congress Sessions On Demand

Virtual registration is still an option for Clinical Congress 2022. An on-demand library of recorded sessions from San Diego is available until May 1, 2023.