Imagine that you’re still a medical student and you just started your class on surgery. Instead of the usual practice of using cadavers for surgery practice, you have a live body lying in front of you. Not sure where to inject the anesthesia, you proceed anyway trying to remember what you studied, but you get it wrong. But instead of a medical catastrophe and a lawsuit being slapped on you, a big yellow warning triangle appears where you went wrong. It turns out that the body that looked real was actually just a “real” body in a virtual reality environment.
The new Microsoft Hololens and Touch Surgery is an innovative virtual reality (VR) platform that conjures up a medical facility background complete with “live patient.” This new technology can help potential surgeons learn and practice an operation without the need for an actual live patient, or a cadaver. Do take note that this is not a toy and those using it may someday be the skilled hands of future surgeons that may one day save a life. So if you’re thinking of using it just for fun, you’re better off passing it to your cousin Dave who’s in medical school on a scholarship.
Before the end of 2017 it is estimated that there will be a need for 143 million surgical procedures for various diseases and physical aspects. Yet the present rate of training new and potential surgeons is too slow, increasing the waiting periods of certain operating procedures that may only aggravate the situation. Touch Surgery not only improves surgery performance but also speeds up the process of medical training. It makes surgery training less complicated because the correct knowledge as well as the ability to practice ahead of time speeds up the training process. Even professional surgeons can use the platform to practice difficult procedures.
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Touch Surgery and Hololens are made to be combined thanks to the home app that can run on iOS or Android. Any medical student or surgeon can download it and try out a procedure to practice. The app covers a wide variety of operations from simple knee surgery, emergency pericardiocentesis to actual brain surgery. For novice surgeon-trainees the experience is very realistic in a quite squishy way. The simulation may be far less gut-wrenching, but it is still able to make you wince.
How important can the Microsoft Hololens and Touch Surgery be to a surgeon and is it really necessary to practice surgery? In reality, surgeons don’t get to practice at all. Cadavers today aren’t as common as they used to be given new laws and regulations in the medical field. So often the first surgery performed is exactly what it is, the very first time a doctor is doing the procedure.
According to Touch Surgery CEO and founder Jean Nehme, “Surgery is a process, with a series of actions, and those actions are used to navigate through the body to find the problem and fix it. The best surgeons have years of experience, telling them what to do, when, and alerting them to any potential problems. But, how do you take that expertise, and pass it on to new surgeons? Typically it’s done through description, transfer of knowledge through training sessions, or more recently, videos of surgeries.”