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The virtual surgeon [virtual reality trainer]

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Rapid improvements in computing power have opened the way for desktop virtual reality trainers that incorporate realistic graphics and, in some cases, the sense of touch. Affordable commercial simulators, for instance, are now available for practising such tasks as threading flexible endoscopes down a virtual patient's throat or manipulating the long surgical instruments used in laparoscopy. Companies and universities are also developing systems that simulate more complex procedures, such as suturing tissue and inserting a catheter into a vein using laparoscopic tools. These VR trainers can be adjusted to the user, to pinpoint areas of weakness, and they can be used at any time, without the need for supervision. What's more, they prepare the student psychologically for surgical tasks, because complications can be simulated in a safe manner. They can also give objective scores of a student's ability. Indeed, studies show that computer based training simulations are at least as good as standard training methods

Published in:

IEEE Spectrum  (Volume:37 ,  Issue: 7 )