Skip to main content

Brain surgery meets virtual reality for eye-opening learning experience

Twitter: @kitimuller

Nokia’s OZO virtual reality camera had a very special audience recently when it was set up alongside live streaming equipment in the neurosurgical operation room (OR) at the Helsinki University Hospital (HUH) Neurosurgery Department. Neurosurgeons from all over the world flew to Helsinki in June to attend the 17th annual Live Demonstration Course in Operative Microneurosurgery at HUH. This year attendees were offered a totally new way to experience and learn surgery techniques in the OR through virtual reality (VR) live streaming.

Constant training and peer learning form one of main cornerstones in the life of a doctor. Observing, discussing and determining the right treatment occurs either at the hospital bed or at the operating table. Typically, only  10-15 external observers can fit in an operating theater in addition to the operating team, leaving other participants to observe from the large TV screens outside the room. By using virtual reality live streaming, the operating hospital will ultimately have the possibility to share this experience with countless medical professionals around the world and allow them to feel as if they’re right there in the room with the operating team.

Go behind the scenes to see how VR can advance the healthcare industry by delivering an immersive learning experience, regardless of viewer location:

Here’s the anatomy of the project. The neurosurgeons at the University Hospital contacted me to see if Nokia could improve the educational experience with Virtual and/or Augmented Reality (AR). Together with Nokia’s Digital Media Lab and we investigated how VR and AR could be used to give doctors the invaluable live experience of being present in the OR no matter where they were located. The research team developed a solution in which a video from the surgery microscope and brain imaging pictures were captured into the real time live stream.

During the actual live course in June, I took turns watching with my medical colleagues using the head-mounted displays. In addition to following the operating neurosurgeon, we also saw how the patient was prepared for the surgery, the work of assisting nurses and anesthesiologist. There was a lot of learning  on aspects of seamless team work made visible with the OZO live stream.

Virtual reality can be used for simulating bedside sharing. By “flying” into the OR as the patient’s attending neurologist, for example,  I could share valuable information I obtain directly with my patients. A neurologist or general practitioner is often the first doctor from whom a patient learns about the need to be operated. The VR experience could also be used to help health care professionals stay up-to-date ensuring that patients and family members get accurate information on the next steps of treatment. This opens up new ways to improve communication, which  should always be at the centre of a satisfying patient care experience.

Nokia OZO camera with embedded mixed reality elements can be tailored to accommodate the needs in different areas of clinical care, and facilitate the communication between all involved in the treatment cycle, including doctors, nurses, patients and family members. The opportunities for medical consultations will be remarkable: when gathered around a virtual OR, doctors around the world can work together to solve difficult cases.

There are many additional benefits. Medical procedures can be better planned ahead and, in addition, the operating teams can relive an operation afterwards and discuss how to improve the cooperation in the OR or what new solutions might work better. Virtual reality can also be used when planning new hospitals and other care centres e.g. in developing countries. The planner can remotely be present in a modern, well-equipped hospital and and have a real 360 view of what’s needed to get the new facilities up and running. A new way of remotely visiting a hospital can also be offered to patients and family members beforehand.

Virtual reality is a very powerful tool in teaching and showing new ways of doing things in critical areas such as the medical sector, which is particularly close to my heart and mind I’m excited to help  drive this forward - this is another great example of what we mean by expanding the human possibilities of technology.

We have more to share on our Nokia OZO website and in this press release.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #digitalhealth #healthcare #OZO