When Hollywood Met Neurosurgery
Special effects pros help create lifelike 3-D simulator for practicing neurosurgery
A team of computer engineers and neurosurgeons, with an assist from Hollywood special effects experts, reports successful early tests of a novel, lifelike 3-D simulator designed to teach surgeons to perform a delicate, minimally invasive brain operation. The procedure uses endoscopes, which are small, computer-guided tubes and instruments, to treat certain forms of hydrocephalus, a condition marked by an excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid and pressure on the brain. ETV is a minimally invasive procedure that short-circuits the fluid back into normal channels in the brain, eliminating the need for implantation of a shunt, a lifelong device with the associated complications of a foreign body. “For surgeons, the ability to practice a procedure is essential for accurate and safe performance of the procedure. Surgical simulation is akin to a golfer taking a practice swing,” says Alan R. Cohen, MD, professor of neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a senior author of the report. “With surgical simulation, we can practice the operation before performing it live.”
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