Virtual reality is changing the face of medical education and surgical practices. Sukhmet Panesar, Anish Shah, and Iain Mckay-Davies look to the future
The year is 2020 and Mrs Barrymore lies on the operating table, awaiting her laparoscopic cholecystectomy. She was initially concerned that Mr Stewart is only in his first year of specialist training, but he reminds her that he has performed over 50 virtual reality (VR) laparoscopic cholecystectomies on the department's VR simulator, with a success rate of over 95%. The patient is not particularly clear on the meaning of all this; VR vaguely reminds her of a movie, The Matrix, which she saw two decades ago.
Virtual reality (VR) is a way for humans to visualise, manipulate, and interact with extremely complex data. Originally born out of the need to familiarise pilots with an aeroplane's instrumentation in the 1930s, as a form of mechanical flight simulation, virtual reality has followed a path of rapid technological development, with the major advances in digital simulation taking place since the 1980s. These have