Skip to main content

Surgeons might soon train in VR simulations instead of using real cadavers

It’s not the most glamorous part of medicine, but cadavers, aka dead bodies used for training, are an essential resource for learners. Unfortunately, they are also not readily available. An increasing number of physician assistant and nurse practitioner programs, along with a shortage of donations, means that there is frequently a strain on supply. Could cutting-edge technology help?

Quite possibly so, suggests a project from Montpellier Medical University in France, Artec 3D and medical assessment company IMA Solutions. They are using the latest 3D scanning and virtual reality technology to create photorealistic virtual cadavers which can be used by students and professionals to carry out realistic dissections — without necessarily having to touch a real dead body in the process. The tool is being turned into an app, which is planned for release later in 2018.

“Two surgeons from the Montpellier Medical University city anatomy laboratory, Dr. Guillaume Captier and Dr. Mohamed Akkari, had the idea to create a VR application so medical students will be able to practice dissecting bodies in VR before attempting the task on a real cadaver,” Andrei Vakulenko, chief business development officer at Artec 3D, told Digital Trends. “In the app, there will be a practice mode and also an examination mode for the professors to run. In the practice mode, the user can select a part of the anatomy, will be given information on how best to dissect this area and can attempt it. In the examination mode, the student will need to answer questions and show his or her dissection ability. Once a student passes the examination mode, he or she will have sufficient practice and experience to try dissecting a real corpse.”

The cadavers in the app are 3D-scanned versions of real bodies. These were scanned with a metrological grade Artec Space Spider 3D scanner to ensure that the visuals look as realistic as possible. Vakulenko noted that the scanning had to be carried out very quickly because of the changes the body undergoes over time, and the fact that it needed to appear consistent in the app itself. The dissection itself can be carried out using haptic tools which will allow trainee surgeons to practice their operating skills.

“The app is still in development, but the plan is to make the dissection as realistic as possible, working at high 3D real-time refresh rates and also simulating the use of surgical tools with a device like the 3D Systems’ haptic device, which gives the actual sense of touch and physical pressure,” Vakulenko said.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Why let Pixar have all the fun? Mindshow lets anybody make 3D movies in VR

Mindshow isn’t just a VR storytelling platform -- it’s basically Final Cut Pro for VR
Imagine that you have a great idea for a short animated film.

You have all the details figured out in your head -- the plot, the characters, the setting, and even all the witty dialogue. All that stands between you and making your masterpiece is the animation part.

Read more
Edit from the inside: Sixense refines MakeVR, its immersive CAD modeling platform
Sixense MakeVR

When Sixense previewed MakeVR, its immersive 3D-modeling platform, a couple years ago, we were impressed. Equipped with Sixense’s proprietary hardware, we could make CAD models from within a virtual reality environment -- grabbing, moving, and snapping objects together as we saw fit. It wasn’t perfect but it was promising.

Well, we’re excited to say that Sixense has refined and finalized its platform. Best of all, it's made MakeVR compatible with the HTC Vive, opening it up to a much broader audience, from professional game developers to amateur architects and everyone in between.

Read more
PlayStation VR adds support for 360-degree videos and photos
A man playing with a PS VR headset and Move controllers.

The PlayStation 4 will soon support 360-degree videos and photos courtesy of a forthcoming update for the console's built-in Media Player that will allow users to view 3D content while wearing a PlayStation VR headset.

The update, set for release by the end of the day on Thursday, will also introduce support for FLAC audio while optimizing MP3 and advanced audio coding (AAC) playback quality.

Read more