December 28, 2017By Lance Baily

Stanford Medical Center Uses Virtual Reality to Prepare Docs for Surgeries

VOA News recently shared how doctors at Stanford Medical Center used Virtual Reality to help prepare for a delicate surgery.

Steinberg decided to use virtual reality technology to improve and explain the surgical operation. To do this, medical experts needed to take three dimensional (3D) images of Luna’s brain. A dye, or colored fluid, was injected into her bloodstream. Doctors then used computerized tomography (CT) technology to make detailed pictures of her brain and blood vessels. Malie Collins is program coordinator of the Stanford Neurological Simulation and Virtual Reality Center. She creates the images Steinberg uses when preparing for surgery.


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Collins once worked for an Ohio company called Surgical Theater. It makes software programs with the ability to turn medical images into 3D tools for surgeons. Doctors can see the images using headsets like Oculus Rift or similar devices. Collins trained Stanford’s medical workers to use the equipment. Then she joined the team. Collins and Steinberg created the neurological simulation and virtual reality center. It is said to be the first virtual reality medical center in the United States.

Part of Collin’s job is to create a “fly through” virtual reality video for patients. It lets them see inside their own bodies. This virtual reality trip lets doctors and students see what is wrong and how to treat it. For Patient Felicia Luna, that means she can put on a headset and travel through her own brain.

Before the operation, Luna admitted that she was “a nervous wreck.” But with the video, she was able to see the path Steinberg would take to repair her blood vessel. “Now I feel like I know exactly what’s going to happen.”

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