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VIRTUAL REALITY – Chinese hospital uses virtual reality to train surgeons

A hospital in Beijing, the Chinese capital, is a pioneer in the use of virtual reality (VR) technology to help train doctors responsible for performing cardiac surgeries.

Researchers at Fuwai Hospital, under the Academy of Medical Sciences of China, have built a 3D heart model with typical CT images of patients with coronary heart disease. The experts transferred the 3D model to a visualizer mounted on the head through an RV software developed by a Hangzhou company.

A surgeon equipped with a visualizer and a motion controller will get a 360-degree view of the anatomical structure of a patient's heart, and will also be able to interact with some virtual functions.

Last year, 18 doctors from the hospital participated in a 10-month RV training program.

"Virtual reality images look more vivid than images on paper or on computers," said Zhong Zhaoji, a 33-year-old physician who participated in the program. "The system allowed me to observe all the parts, experience the virtual cut and even move through the virtual heart," he added.

Fan Hongguang, cardiac surgeon and head of the training program, explained that having a clear understanding of the structure of a heart and its relationship with other organs is not easy, but it is very important for a surgery. Frequently, some deformities in severe congenital heart disease confuse new surgeons.

The specialist believes that the RV system can help young doctors to master heart surgery more quickly.

Later, researchers and experts will further improve the technology, enrich the training courses and establish a platform for RV-assisted surgery, he said.

Fuwai Hospital is the most specialized health center in China in terms of cardiovascular diseases, and performs more than 10,000 operations per year.

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