On Monday, a Canadian neurosurgeon made history when he performed the first simulated brain surgery using a virtual reality simulator. Less than 24 hours later, he conducted the real operation and successfully removed a brain tumor.
The simulator uses pictures of a patient's brain (taken using an MRI) to create a virtual environment. According to the doctor who performed the surgery, the virtual environment looks like the real thing, feels like the real thing, and you use the same instruments as the real surgery.
The simulated surgery gives surgeons a practice run at the surgery, allowing them to mapped out their surgical approach and enabling them to anticipate and fix potential problems before they occur.
The technology is also expected to change the way medical training is conducted. Most training is currently conducted in the operating room. The simulator will allow training to occur outside the operating room, in a secure educational environment, allowing students to make mistakes and learn from them. This tool will better prepared them before they step into an operating room.