Virtual reality

Innovative VR training developing next generation of surgeons

The latest in virtual reality (VR) technology is being used to give the next generation of surgeons a world-class education and a safe space for them to develop and hone their skills before going out into a real operating theatre.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust recently hosted the largest VR surgical training event in all of Europe – as part of the event, trainees created an avatar before being virtually transported into a lecture theatre and an operating theatre where they practiced knee and hip replacements as well as anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions.

Enabling trainees to practice and develop in a safe environment before going out into the real world will ensure they can deliver the very care possible, ultimately improving patient outcomes and further cementing the NHS’s position as a world-leading healthcare provider.

The event was the brainchild of Adil Ajuied, a consultant specialist knee surgeon, Wathik El Alami, an orthopaedic surgeon, and Dr Paul Kelly, consultant anaesthetist – all from Guy’s and St Thomas’.

Adil Ajuied said: “Virtual reality is not just for gamers entering an electronic world. This type of surgical training is very much like an aviation simulator – pilots learn how to fly aeroplanes on the ground before they ever get onto an aeroplane with passengers.

“The benefit for our patients is that they will be cared for and treated by surgeons who have had the opportunity to rehearse, practice and run through their surgical procedures.”

More than 30 surgical trainees from across the capital, faculty members and other health professionals attended the occasion at the Gordon Museum of Pathology, including trauma and orthopaedic surgery speciality trainee, Thomas Lewis.

He said: “The thing about surgical training is it’s all about exposure to theatre time and patients, but obviously patients don’t want us to be practicing on them so we want to get as much experience before going into theatre as possible.

“The best thing about this virtual reality technology is it allows us to be in theatre, do procedures, learn all the steps and know exactly what is going on. The benefit for patients in the long run is that the surgeons of the future who will be coming through will have better training, better opportunities and will therefore provide even better care.”

Guy’s and St Thomas’ expect to run similar events in the future, further training up tomorrow’s health leaders.

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