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Virtual reality brain surgery recorded for first time for medical students

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The idea is to provide med students with an improved opportunity to gain firsthand experience with the procedure.

A new virtual reality brain surgery recording has become the first of its kind and is designed to give medical students the chance to see the procedure as they would within an operating theater.

It can be very difficult for med students to obtain this type of opportunity as spaces are very limited.

According to Barts Health NHS Trust surgeon, Alex Alamri, virtual reality brain surgery is on the edge of changing the experience med students have when it comes to their surgical experience. “Neurosurgery is probably one of the most inaccessible surgical specialities there is, especially from the point of view of the patients and public,” said Alamri. “They can experience a certain element of neurophobia where anything to do with the brain is quite scary.”

Alamri and colleague Chris Uff worked with a team at The Royal London Hospital in order to perform the first virtual reality brain surgery recording. The team worked with FundamentalVR and 360 degree cameras within the operating theater. Moreover, the surgeons wore GoPros on their heads in order to be able to capture first-hand surgeon’s point of view recordings of the neurosurgery.

A segment of the virtual reality brain surgery has been posted on YouTube for those with VR headsets.

Even without a headset, it can be viewed in regular 360 video to get somewhat of an idea of what the experience would be for those who have VR viewers such as Google Cardboard.

The experience begins as the patient is wheeled into the operating theater and is then transferred to the operating table itself. The skin is cleaned in the area where the procedure will occur, and then the surgery begins. The operation as a whole is shown in 360 degrees for an entire view of the theater throughout the length of the virtual reality experience. That said, the detailed views are captured from the GoPro head cameras of the surgeons. It’s important to note that the recording is of an actual brain surgery and is, therefore, not meant to be viewed by anyone who is squeamish about that sort of sight, particularly in VR.

This virtual reality brain surgery is one component of a larger project called Brainbook. It has recorded a number of brain surgeries for the purpose of education.

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