VR in Medical Education: Virtually Real?

A new viewpoint on the future of surgical training and education

Loading video...

Thanks to our close collaboration with Hospital Clinic Barcelona, we are exploring the potential to transform medical teaching with the power of VR technology*. Using our NUCLeUS™ digital integrated OR solution, together with VR, we hope to provide medical students an immersive first-hand view of any medical procedure – without even having to be present in the OR.

*This is not yet a commercial solution

You can explore patient vitals and surgical team information, as well feeling like you’re witnessing everything first-hand.

Laura Reed
Sony Healthcare Solutions

Alleviate traditional limitations to surgical training

Additional students attending a surgery can distract surgical teams focused on a complex task. Sometimes the operating theatres are just too small to accommodate the students who need to view and learn from the surgery. It’s often the case that only 2 to 3 students can be present in an OR at any one time. And of course, extra students in the OR pose a much larger infection risk to the patient.

Working closely with Hospital Clinic Barcelona, we’re drawing on decades of imaging innovation to transform surgical training. The result – clinical teaching that’s more valuable for students and ultimately, safer for patients.

A surgeon in the middle of an operation with two other person in scrubs
A view of the VR interface as seen by someone wearing the VR headset, shows an animated OR with various parts labelled on screen for easy navigation

Virtual education

With a VR headset and a controller, students outside the operating room can step into an immersive virtual representation of actual surgical procedures.

There’s no need for time-consuming surgical scrubs. Students in a lecture theatre or training room can view what’s happening from every angle. Virtual monitor screens can be grabbed and re-positioned, displaying 4K images in 3D and 2D from endoscopes, laparoscopic cameras and other critical information.

Everything’s captured with NUCLeUS, Sony’s video-over-IP platform that routes video across the hospital campus while letting students and teaching staff review recordings afterwards.

A future rich with possibilities

A view of the VR interface showing the surgery in progress in Hospital Clinic Barcelona

How does it work?

One or a pair of Sony cameras capture a situational view of the whole operating room. Each one is fitted with fisheye lenses that shoots an ultra-wide 180 degree perspective to allow an immersive view of what’s happening inside the OR. Extra information is provided by other room cameras, plus direct feeds from surgical imaging cameras, patient data and other sources.

An extra dimension is provided by microphones that capture ambient sounds in the operating room as well as the surgeon’s spoken commentary. Everything is integrated into an immersive audio-visual landscape that gives students a unique viewpoint to enhance their educational journey.

An overhead view of an operating table surronded by surgeons

And what’s next?

Our Healthcare Solutions Team has already conducted several trials with VR in a number of proof-of-concept scenarios. The most notable being this example with Hospital Clinic Barcelona and AIS Channel, the world-leading platform for surgical online learning.

Content for our VR App has been created from footage from operations which have taken place at the hospital. Through the headset the user can then lay out multiple screens and decide on their point of view. We have also demonstrated this during the Healthcare trade fair; Medica, in Dusseldorf, Germany.

We are looking forward to further experimentation as we firmly believe there are rich possibilities for this technology in Healthcare.

Discover our imaging solutions for medical teaching and training

We’re giving medical students a clearer, more informed view of complex procedures in today’s digital operating rooms.

Find out more >