To help give medical staff a deeper insight into what the coronavirus does to the human body, George Washington University Hospital is turning to virtual reality. They’ve created a VR simulation that allows doctors to fly through the lungs of a COVID-19 patient who is fighting for their life.
The program was created by the hospital’s head of thoracic surgery Dr. Keith Mortman in partnership with Surgical Theater. The California based company is known for making 360 interactive simulations of the human body to help doctors teach, learn and plan.
Coronavirus VR Sim Shows How Virus Infects Lungs
The team processed images from a CT scan of a patient’s chest and created a virtual reality fly-through that shows how the virus can infect airways and inflame the immune system. The simulation shows healthy lung tissue in blue and the virus-infected lung tissue in yellow. It really gives users a grasp of how damaging COVID-19 can be.
“There is such a stark contrast between the virus-infected abnormal lung and the more healthy, adjacent lung tissue,” said Dr. Mortman in a podcast. “And it’s such a contrast that you do not need an MD after your name to understand these images. This is something the general public can take a look at and really start to comprehend how severe the amount of damage this is causing the lung tissue. The damage we’re seeing is not isolated to any one part of the lung. This is severe damage to both lungs diffusely.”
Surgical Theater’s Simulation Gives Doctors a Better Look at the Virus
The hospital hopes the VR simulation will allow doctors to get a much better look at the process. They also hope it will allow to the public to see how dangerous this virus really is and understand why we all need to do everything we can to slow the pandemic and save lives.
“Those symptoms, what we’re seeing, some of them are coming on very rapidly. This is the message I’m trying to get out to the public: We’re hearing, ‘We’ll it’s like the flu or it’s like pneumonia,’ and it’s really not. It’s nothing like either one of those,” said Dr. Mortman