Emerging medical applications of virtual reality: a surgeon's perspective

Artif Intell Med. 1994 Aug;6(4):281-8. doi: 10.1016/0933-3657(94)90033-7.


Medical applications for virtual reality (VR) technologies are just beginning to emerge. These include VR surgical simulators, telepresence surgery, complex medical database visualization, and rehabilitation. These applications are mediated through the computer interface and embody VR as an integral part of a paradigm shift in the field of medicine. The Green Telepresence Surgery System consists of two components, the surgical workstation and the remote worksite. At the remote site there is a 3-D camera system and responsive manipulators with sensory input. At the workstation there is a 3-D monitor and dexterous handles with force feedback. The VR surgical simulator is a stylized recreation of the human abdomen with several essential organs. Using a head-mounted display and DataGlove, a person can learn anatomy from a new perspective by 'flying' inside and around the organs, or can practice surgical procedures with a scalpel and clamps. Database visualization creates 3-D images of complex medical data for new perspectives in analysis. VR applications in rehabilitation medicine permit impaired individuals to perform tasks not otherwise available to them, allow accurate assessment and therapy for their disabilities, and help architects understand their critical needs in public or personal space. And to support these advanced technologies, the operating room and hospital of the future will be first designed and tested in virtual reality, bringing together the full power of the digital physician.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computer Graphics*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Education, Medical / trends
  • General Surgery / education
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Medical Laboratory Science / trends*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / trends*