Chancellor's Check-Up: Virtual Reality Surgery - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/11/04

Chancellor's Check-Up: Virtual Reality Surgery

An important part of a surgeon's training is getting the feel for the different kinds of procedures. Dr. David Smith looks at the technology available today that allows medical students and residents to get the feel for surgery before they operate on a live person.

A surgeon's hands are his instrument. To learn to use them effectively and correctly while training is the purpose of a computer program developed in the lab of Texas Tech University Computer Science Professor Bharti Temkin.

"If you look at previous technology, the sense of touch was not possible for using computer systems, and that's one other thing we have done in my lab where we use things called Haptic devices, which allow you to actually touch the objects in the computer," explains Dr. Temkin.

This technology not only benefits medical students and residents but also surgeons who have been practicing for many years.

"You can remove organs, play with the structures, highlight them, label them, walk through it in any direction so that the perceptual model position is enhanced even by current training standards," she says.

The technology focuses on laparoscopic surgery because it is technically the most difficult. Virtual surgery enables us at Texas Tech to bring together the expertise of the College of Engineering and the Department of Surgery, the future is training medical student and residents and even physicians already in training wherever they are with this incredible technology.

The future of virtual reality surgery includes a program that will make organs that are not real seem real when they are touched. That will be an incredible leap in medical training because it will make the whole experience almost exactly as it would be during a real surgery.

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