Virtual Reality Is Coming to Medical Imaging

Amy Westervelt, The Wall Street Journal

Most medical-imaging equipment on the market today can generate 3-D images. Yet surgeons often stick with what they were taught to do in medical school, which is view multiple two-dimensional snapshots of the body part on which they plan to operate and reconstruct a three-dimensional view of it in their heads. Many of them don’t think 3-D images offer enough increased benefit to merit that becoming the new standard, and the higher cost of 3-D imaging means hospitals have to demonstrate it actually improves patient care to get reimbursed.

That may be about to get easier. New virtual-reality technologies, which can pull in imagery and data from multiple sources, have the potential to more dramatically affect patient outcomes. In clinical trials, some virtual-reality simulations reduced surgical planning time by 40% and increased surgical accuracy by 10%.