Virtual reality (VR) with head-mounted displays (HMD) may improve medical training and patient care by improving display and integration of different types of information. The aim of this study was to evaluate among different healthcare professions the potential of an interactive and immersive VR environment for liver surgery that integrates all relevant patient data from different sources needed for planning and training of procedures.
3D-models of the liver, other abdominal organs, vessels, and tumors of a sample patient with multiple hepatic masses were created. 3D-models, clinical patient data, and other imaging data were visualized in a dedicated VR environment with an HMD (IMHOTEP). Users could interact with the data using head movements and a computer mouse. Structures of interest could be selected and viewed individually or grouped. IMHOTEP was evaluated in the context of preoperative planning and training of liver surgery and for the potential of broader surgical application. A standardized questionnaire was voluntarily answered by four groups (students, nurses, resident and attending surgeons).
In the evaluation by 158 participants (57 medical students, 35 resident surgeons, 13 attending surgeons and 53 nurses), 89.9% found the VR system agreeable to work with. Participants generally agreed that complex cases in particular could be assessed better (94.3%) and faster (84.8%) with VR than with traditional 2D display methods. The highest potential was seen in student training (87.3%), resident training (84.6%), and clinical routine use (80.3%). Least potential was seen in nursing training (54.8%).
The present study demonstrates that using VR with HMD to integrate all available patient data for the preoperative planning of hepatic resections is a viable concept. VR with HMD promises great potential to improve medical training and operation planning and thereby to achieve improvement in patient care.