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Advanced Virtual Surgery Trainer Provides Tactile Feedback

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 27 Aug 2018
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Image: A VR haptic feedback system can train future surgeons (Photo courtesy of FundamentalVR).
Image: A VR haptic feedback system can train future surgeons (Photo courtesy of FundamentalVR).
A new virtual reality (VR) surgery training platform using haptic and physical feedback to create a tactile, flight simulator-like experience for surgeons.

The FundamentalVR (London, United Kingdom) VR training platform is based on a proprietary surgical haptic intelligence engine (SHIE) designed to mimic the sensation of operating on various types of human tissue, from subcutaneous fat to muscle and bone. Combined with off-the-shelf VR devices and haptic arm devices, the platform provides an immersive training tool for surgeons in waiting. Haptic baselines are created through consultation with a range of surgical specialists, and calibrated through a development process to refine appropriate interactions.

Initial rollout will feature training packages for orthopedic surgery, including pedicle screw placement, posterior hip replacement, and total knee arthroplasty (TKA). During each simulation, users receive real-time feedback on instrument use and technique, procedural accuracy, and impact on the patient. The system can also randomly present rare complications or scenarios, such as unexpected bleeding, an abnormal anatomy, or a change in the patient’s condition. And as the SHIE platform works with standard VR and haptic equipment, it is updated in tandem with new developments in the fast-growing haptics space.

“Our mission is to democratise surgical training by placing safe, affordable and authentic simulations within arm’s reach of every surgeon in the world,” said Richard Vincent, CEO of FundamentalVR. “As we continue to develop and deploy our Haptic Intelligence Engine (SHIE) we are in effect building a hardware agnostic haptic map of the human body, which as other hardware solutions such as haptic gloves become economically viable for wide-scale medical use, we will be able to port directly into.”

Current surgical training for surgeons is largely confined to the classroom and viewing cadaver-based demonstrationsg, with limited hands-on time actually spent on the cadavers themselves. According to FundameltalVR, a single cadaver can cost upwards of USD 13,000 and can only be used to train between four and six students. While other haptic surgery simulation solutions do exist, these can cost in the region of USD 100,000, and less than 0.5%of the world’s surgeons enjoy access to them. FundameltalVR is pitching an entry point of USD 350 per month for use of the system on a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform.

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