What You Should Know:
– Smile Train and BioDigital launched the first-ever cleft surgery virtual reality (VR) platform experience at the IMSH Conference in Orlando, Florida.
– The platform utilizes a “metaverse operating room” to simulate surgery on cleft lip and palate, a common birth condition that occurs when a baby’s lip or mouth does not form properly during pregnancy. The condition can cause difficulty with breathing, eating and speaking. If left untreated, a cleft lip or palate can be fatal.
Expanding the Horizons of Surgery Via Integrated Virtual Reality
The Virtual Surgery Simulator (VSS) VR Extension is a brand new technology that will allow surgeons from all over the world to enter and collaborate in virtual operating rooms together. This new VR platform will not only support safer surgery and better outcomes for patients with clefts, but also advance health equity worldwide. This technology was designed to bring cost-effective education to medical professionals across the globe and to bridge the gap in access to life-saving surgical care. Though surgical treatment is an essential component of effective health care, a mere 6 percent of the 313 million procedures undertaken worldwide each year take place in the world’s poorest countries, where more than a third of the world’s population lives. Approximately 5 billion people have no access to safe, affordable, and timely surgical and anesthesia care.
There are several features that make this technology rollout unique among VR platforms, including:
– A multi-user experience to allow for a feeling of presence inside a virtual operating room, even when clinicians are in separate locations (Cleft Learning Center) allowing for hands-on mentorship in the operating room even from afar;
– An adaptable methodology such that other institutions and leaders of medical teams—even outside of the cleft specialty—can apply similar approaches to train simulated emergencies and best practices;
– A network of cleft-focused clinicians eager to use this technology. The VR extension launched today builds on the existing Smile Train Virtual Surgery Simulator (VSS)—launched in 2012 as a free web- and mobile app-accessible surgical simulator providing instruction for cleft lip and palate repair from some of the world’s premier surgeons. In 11 years, the original VSS has provided healthcare professionals in 141 countries with essential information about cleft anatomy and surgical techniques for cleft lip and palate repair, and the new VSS VR extension will further improve surgeons’ ability to practice and safely provide this surgery;
– Five modules that have already been produced (four anatomic tours including unilateral and bilateral lip, one unit on responding to a patient with an obstructed airway), and more modules currently under development;
– The ability to draw on surfaces to indicate surgical markings;
– Simulated steps that guide the clinician through the steps to save the patient’s life during adverse events (Obstructed Airway module);
– Guided tours of cleft anatomy, including a comparison of normal anatomy to bilateral and unilateral clefts anatomy; and
– The VR system will leverage the world’s largest 3D surgical cleft library
“The Virtual Surgery Simulator VR extension represents a model for the future of global surgical training,” said Anne Arnold, Senior Director of Education and Training at Smile Train. “The technology allows for next-level accessibility for surgeons and surgeons in training. For example, if a resident program director has a resident who returns to her hometown, both can continue to meet in the metaverse with the senior surgeon providing hands-on mentorship from afar. And in the end, patients, families and communities will benefit the most from safer surgery and better access to care.”