Virtual surgery training to increase skills

Virtual surgery training to increase skills

Virtual surgery training to increase skills

Virtual Reality (VR) has become a booming business. More and more VR applications are reaching the market and VR is increasingly accepted as mainstream[1]. This makes sense; Virtual Reality offers the opportunity, more than any other technology, to immerse yourself in a different world. When you put your VR headset on, you can be anything: a soldier, a handyman, a surgeon… The opportunities are endless.

Surgery is a particularly well-suited topic for virtual reality, in the sense that a high level of precision is required, training takes a long time and comes at high cost. In addition, new techniques are being developed every single day, which require additional training. Virtual reality provides an adequate solution to the increasing demand for efficient surgical training.

Training surgeons, time-consuming and costly

Today, a range of methods are used to teach and train surgeons. One of the most common training methods of continuing medical education (CME) uses “demonstration”[2] to help surgical students acquire new skills. This approach implies that surgeons visit other surgeons or attend symposia to observe and learn new techniques[3]. Unfortunately, this approach requires students and teachers to travel around and can be very costly. Moreover, the demonstration method is very time-consuming, both for teachers and students. These setbacks, combined with the large number of medical innovations that are marketed daily, make it very hard for surgeons to keep their knowledge up to date[4].

Setbacks of conventional training methods

An additional problem of demonstrations is that they make it nearly impossible for students to have a perfect view on the ongoing surgery. Students see everything from the sideline, not from the operating surgeon’s point of view, which may negatively impact training outcome. It goes without saying that surgical procedures require a high level of precision. This level of perfection is hard to attain without trying out the surgery beforehand. Due to obvious safety risks, “just” trying out a new technique on a patient is not the most desirable way to proceed. A certain amount of “watch and learn” will always be required, which is where Virtual Reality comes in.

Virtual surgery, a great way to watch and learn

The power of Virtual Reality lies in the fact that it submerges users in a different world, it makes you feel as if you’re in a different body. Watching a 3D surgery video in a VR environment will make you feel as if you’re the one performing the surgery. This not only helps improve surgical skills[5], it also enhances the understanding of the surgical procedure[6], and saves both time and money. Furthermore, VR lets you live the experience from a first point-of-view: you see everything through the eyes of the performing surgeon, a welcome perspective for training surgeons. Immersive training procedures are not only a very useful and interesting experience, it’s also great fun.

We are only just beginning to explore the unchartered territories of virtual reality. There’s a whole new world out there, that’s definitely worth exploring. Catch a glimpse of it by watching the first (public) virtual surgery available and enjoy the trip!

To see a live demonstration of virtual surgery, come visit Revinax at the AFC congress in Paris on September 27th to 29th. For more information on our virtual surgery technology and applications, don’t hesitate to contact us.


Written by Eline Lubbes


[1] S. Barnes, Understanding Virtual Reality in Marketing: Nature, Implications and Potential, 2016.

[2] Nilsson et al, BMC Medical Education, 10:9 2010:6.

[3] S.E. Nissen, Reforming the Continuing Medical Education System. JAMA. 313:18 2015:1813.

[4] J. Tapia Jurado, Retos de la cirugía en el siglo XXI, 85 2017:1

[5] Grantcharov et al, Randomized clinical trial of virtual reality simulation for laparoscopic skills training, 2004.

[6] M. Ros, J. Trives, N. Lonjon, From stereoscopic recording to virtual reality headsets: Designing a new way to learn surgery. Neurochirurgie, 6:1 2017:1-5.