Stanford Medicine opens VR anatomy lab to aid surgery planning, resident training: 5 notes

The neurosurgery department at Stanford (Calif.) Medicine opened an anatomy lab to complement its existing virtual reality center, the university announced March 8.

Here are five notes on the neuroanatomy lab.

1. Stanford Medicine opened its neurosurgical simulation and virtual reality center in 2016 to allow neurosurgery residents and surgeons to explore digital 3-D renditions of brain structures. The center uses simulation software to transform 2-D patient datasets, such as MRIs and CT scans, to create 3-D images. Residents use the software to practice their skills, while surgeons use it to plan operations.

2. To transition VR into hands-on training, the department opted to launch the anatomy lab. In the lab, residents are able to project 3-D models onto cadavers and practice surgical procedures. In a March 8 statement, Anand Veeravagu, MD, an assistant professor of neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery at Stanford Medicine, said the lab helps residents "build confidence and training in what they're doing."

3. Stanford Medicine procured the lab's equipment, worth more than $1.5 million and donated by various organizations, during the course of about 18 months. Medtronic, Stryker, Haag-Streit USA and Mizuho donated equipment to the lab.

4. Neurosurgery leaders at Stanford Medicine hope the anatomy lab will act as a "bridge" between the simulation center and the operating room for residents looking to hone their skills.

"In the simulation lab, the residents can put on the goggles, interact with the patient anatomy and learn about the case they're about to do the next day," said Harminder Singh, MD, clinical associate professor of neurosurgery at Stanford Medicine. "Then in the anatomy lab, they do the dissection on real cadaver heads and practice the surgery techniques."

5. The anatomy lab is only a prototype, according to the March 8 statement, since the building it's housed in is scheduled for demolition within the next few years. Following the demolition, the anatomy and simulation labs will be relocated to a permanent location. Neurosurgery leaders at Stanford Medicine hope the future anatomy lab will be larger, with space for three additional dissection stations.

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