Neurosurgeons Use Video Game Technology to Peer Inside Patients’ Brains

Some of the technologies that make video games so user-friendly are also helping doctors get a better look into people’s brains before committing to risky surgery.

A company called Surgical Theater said that neurosurgeons at the University of California Los Angeles are using a virtual reality headset used by gamers to examine such maladies as brain tumors and aneurysms, so they can better plan surgical strategy and operative steps.

Surgical Theater is collaborating with the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery to integrate the headset – called the Oculus Rift – with the company’s Surgical Navigation Advanced Platform (SNAP) 3D surgery navigation device.

According to the company, SNAP imports a 3D plan from the company’s SuRgical Planner (SRP), “…allowing surgeons to establish multiple views, rotate and interact with the navigation image to see behind pathology and vital structures.”

Essentially, these doctors use the technology to perform a real-time “fly through” of the patient’s anatomy, so they can precisely plan their surgery before cutting into the patient.

The virtual reality headsets are easy to use, and offer precision control. These qualities are even more prized by neurosurgeons than they are by gamers.

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