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Uses of VR for preoperative planning in cardiology

Virtual reality (VR) has been used in several medical and healthcare fields such as physiotherapy and psychology, but it is now increasingly being used to provide preoperative planning in cardiology. Virtual reality in healthcare has been used for preoperative planning for a number of years now. It is helping doctors to plan their surgeries before actually operating on the patient. The use of VR in preoperative planning is not limited to cardiac surgery only; it is being used in many other surgical fields as well, such as neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery and general surgery.

Cardiac surgery is one of the most complicated surgeries that doctors perform. It requires intensive planning and preparation. Surgeons need to make sure that they are operating on the correct organ, performing the right procedure for that particular patient, and also ensure that they are not harming any other organs in the process.

The use of medical VR in preoperative planning can help surgeons plan medical procedures with greater precision, avoid vital mistakes and significantly reduce risk factors. Let’s take a closer look at how this is actually achieved.


Practice Makes Perfect
When it comes to highly complicated surgical procedures, the risk of something going amiss is always present. In such situations where the patient’s very life is at stake, VR provides a safe, controlled environment for surgeons to explore their options without having to make live incisions on a patient. VR surgery simulation programs enable doctors to practice a procedure identical to the one planned for a particular patient, in a virtual environment. The software allows the doctor to practice as many times as they require, take note of any potential complications that may occur real-time, and perfect the procedure before actually undertaking it. It allows surgeons to plan difficult procedures such as complex coronary bypasses or VV-ECMO with greater precision, speed and accuracy than traditional methods like 2D video simulations or printed illustrations.

3D Heart Models
When it comes to ailments affecting external organs, treatment is relatively more straightforward as the medical practitioner is able to view and examine the affected area with their own eyes and diagnose more effectively. However, in matters of the heart, things are far more complicated. The doctor is not able to visually inspect and examine the heart and its actual condition until the patient is operated upon. However, thanks to virtual reality, they have come very close to doing just that. VR projections can create 3D models of the patient’s heart before surgery, which can be useful for surgeons when they have to plan a bypass or valve replacement. Doctors get a better idea of the patient’s heart and anatomy, and gauge more accurately what procedures will be most effective to address any issues.

Remote Planning
During the pandemic, remote medical procedures came strongly into prominence due to their many advantages, and the practice still continues today. Virtual reality allows doctors to plan their surgery without the patient even being physically present at the hospital. The VR software utilizes scans, images, and visual reports of the patient and is able to create a virtual projection of the patient’s heart, along with any anomalies or defects that may be present. Using interactive virtual environments, the doctors can simulate the surgery from beginning to end and see how it will play out in real time. This is especially helpful in cases where cardiac specialists are present in remote locations, allowing them to also participate in the preoperative planning process.

Virtual reality is a new and emerging technology that has the potential to change how we plan for cardiac surgery. The use of VR in cardiology has increased over time due to the multiple benefits that it offers – it is safe, accurate, fast and cost-effective. There is little doubt that uses of VR in preoperative planning will continue at a burgeoning rate, transforming the way we perceive cardiac medicine and procedures.