Virtual Reality Could Replace Anesthesia

While the idea of using virtual reality (VR) tools in medical training and patient treatment has been around since the inception of the technology, Dr. José Luis Mosso Vazquez, research professor at the Universidad Panamericana and accomplished surgeon, has been actively using VR in surgery for over a decade already. After purchasing his son a low-tech VR game featuring Spiderman back in 2004, Dr. Vasquez realized the tech’s potential for immersion and distraction.

Since many areas of Mexico lack access to the latest medical technology and professionals, ailments requiring surgery can be prohibitively expensive for patients. Even in Mexico City the hospitals are considered to be largely underfunded, so surgical suites may be under-equipped or understaffed.

Dr. Vasquez’s virtual reality solution allows surgery to be performed using only local anesthetics while the patient’s attention is focused on an immersive digital experience. In geographically difficult to reach areas, this innovative surgical approach has helped many hundreds of patients to date.

VR is already being used in medical schools for surgical training. Read more about it:

What does it really feel like to manage an emergency in the operating room? The Cleveland Clinic Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery is using virtual reality (VR) simulations of OR cardiac emergencies to replicate the experience as closely as possible and train cardiac surgery residents. “The two-minute video shows how Cleveland Clinic is using virtual reality scenarios to teach cardiac surgery residents how to maintain ideal performance under the pressure of OR crises.” The VR simulations incorporate scenarios from real operations to create an immersive, realistic, 360-degree experience that includes the viewpoints of multiple members of the surgical team. The scenarios map right decisions, wrong decisions, and their consequences.

This video, narrated by Douglas Johnston, MD, the cardiac surgeon who heads the program, shows the scenario of a patient who has gone into ventricular fibrillation as seen through the VR headset of a surgical resident.

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