Tampa children’s facility uses MRI, CT images for VR prep

St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital is using flight simulator technology to fuse and enhance CT and MRI images to aid in clinician preparation and patient education.

The Tampa, Fla.-based facility is using the Surgical Theater Precision Virtual Reality technology in its pediatric neurology and cardiac surgery programs.

The technology uses F-16 flight simulator technology to create a 360-degree virtual model of a patient’s own anatomy.

"The immersive technology provides our pediatric heart and brain surgeons with a never-before view of the anatomy and pathology of their patients' complex conditions," says Sarah Naumowich, president of St. Joseph's Children's Hospital. "With this cutting-edge digital tool, our surgeons have an unprecedented way to plan and strategize the best route for surgery."

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Surgeons can “fly through” the brain in virtual reality to locate medical issues and then study them from every angle. This 360-degree view is important when creating a sophisticated surgical plan. Surgeons can pre-plan by testing surgical approaches to find the best option based on the reconstruction of the patient’s anatomy, leading to increased surgical efficiency.

The technology also enables clinicians to use virtual reality headsets, surgeons are able to guide a patient through a 360-degree model of their heart or brain to illustrate the condition, treatment options and potential risks in greater detail than ever before.

"Being able to see what the doctor sees provides our patients and their families with a better understanding of the diagnosis, which helps alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that comes with preparing for brain or heart surgery," adds Naumowich.

Surgeons and patients alike can view reconstructions on a wall-mounted viewer or in virtual reality. Using virtually reality goggles and a set of remote controls the surgeon, patient and their family can walk around inside the patient’s own anatomy, seeing it from all angles and gaining unparalleled knowledge and understanding of the child’s complex condition.

St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital is the only dedicated children’s facility in Tampa and is part of the BayCare Health System.

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