George Washington University uses virtual reality to create 27 models of coronavirus patients' damaged lungs

George Washington University Hospital is expanding a virtual reality project to create 27 different interactive models that present a 360-degree view of COVID-19 patients' lungs, according to local ABC affiliate WJLA.

Keith Mortman, MD, chief of thoracic surgery at Washington, D.C.-based GW Hospital, launched the project in March while treating its first coronavirus patient. The thoracic surgery department used its previously implemented 360-degree VR platform to recreate the patient's CT scans to more accurately assess the damage the disease had done to the patient's lungs.

While the first patient involved in the research project died from the virus, Dr. Mortman told the network the hospital "learned a lot" from the patient and the whole VR process, which it hopes to apply to help others moving forward.

Dr. Mortman is now expanding on the work done with the first patient and is using CT scans and the VR tech to create 27 different interactive models for physicians to assess COVID-19 lung damage. The models are built from scans of 27 GW Hospital coronavirus patients representing a mix between men, women, young, old and some who survived and some who died.

"Not only can we better see the diseased parts of the lung, but as part of this research project, we're actually now able to quantify how much lung tissue is affected by the virus. And we can actually calculate a volume of the lung tissue and use that as a percentage compared to the total volume," Dr. Mortman said. "And we're looking to see based upon that volume, can that help us predict the ultimate outcome, which is, is the patient successfully discharged from the hospital or do they succumb to the illness?"

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