Today, technology is widely used in the field of medical treatment. With the help of technology, humans can achieve a high level of precision and efficiency in surgeries. At present, technologies like A.I., surgical robots, 3D printing, and new imaging methods are widely used. But the pace of technology will not stop here, it will keep on evolving further in the future.
The pandemic had a huge impact on the training of the medical students and staff. Their training was halted due to rising cases of the Covid-19 as the hospitals had to shift most of their funds towards the treatment of the affected.
But still, technology such as VR helped future surgeons around the world in learning surgical methods and operating complicated surgical devices. Now, let’s learn about the future technologies that have the potential to change the whole medical industry.
Will Technology Be the Future of Surgery?
In the last 2 decades, the healthcare system has changed a lot due to the introduction of technology. The introduction of CT, MRI, and PET scans has completely changed the medical industry by providing clear imaging of the body. Techniques such as ‘uniportal’ surgery with video assistance allow surgeons to do surgeries with small incisions which is very effective as it has small risks.
During the pandemic, stimulated surgery opened doors for students to do their training through technology. Currently, many medical institutions in various countries are introducing new technological methods such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) for training and learning medical procedures.
The UK has made a £1m investment in a teaching hub called Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) center to promote remote training by using VR, AR, and MR to train future doctors.
7 Ways in Which Technology Will Change the Surgical Training:
As the medical industry faces new challenges, they keep on inventing new methods to face these challenges head-on through technology. Let’s see in what way the future of healthcare will change by introducing these 7 technologies.
Tactical training will be very beneficial for the medical students as it uses various digital simulators as well as real-life models for training.
One of the best examples of this method of training is VirtaMed which uses anatomical rubber models of various body parts on which surgeons can practice arthroscopic operations simultaneously showing photorealistic AR graphics on the screen.
This method became quite famous during the pandemic as many students were not allowed on the hospital premises, due to the high rate of infection. The vice-president of marketing of VirtaMed Phil Norris then rented a van and set up a whole simulator inside the van, visiting various hospitals and providing training.
Currently, VirtaMed is working on a simulator that involves VR called FundamentalVR which will be beneficial for students.
Wealth Gap Creation:
This program will be very effective as its main motive is to provide virtual medical procedure training to the students of rural areas. As the volume of the patients in rural areas may not be as high as in urban areas, meaning the students will have fewer cases to deal with meaning limited training.
This method is not that costly as explained by the CEO and co-founder of FundamentalVR Richard Vincent “With our system, you can use a headset that costs less than £500, send it by post, and [surgeons and trainees] can collaborate straight away. It’s a great way of democratizing, lowering the costs, and providing access.”
With this, students with limited resources can get access to various medical procedures, which will improve healthcare in rural areas.
The AR/VR surgical training was present before the pandemic, but during the pandemic, its scope widened in the field. Now various medical institutions are trying to develop techniques to aid their students.
Cadaver training is one of the standard training that a student can get but it has its limitations, Cadaver at most can be used three times, while in VR a student gets unlimited access. In the future, VR/AR surgical training will be a standard procedure followed by every medical institution.
Surgical robots are completely transforming the way surgeries are performed today. Presently, there are three categories of robots that are used: surgical assistance, modular, and autonomous. Using a robot in surgery increases the chances of success and also improves patient healthcare.
In the future, these surgical robots that are powered by AI and computer vision-capable technologies will assist doctors in surgeries reducing the risk of errors. Some surgical robots will be capable enough to perform surgeries on their own.
In minimally invasive surgery, small precise cuts are made to insert tiny tools and a camera into the body to perform surgery. This surgery is very effective as it has a high recovery rate and causes less pain to the patient.
This method is already in use in laparoscopes and endoscopes. A next generation surgical robotics company, Vicarious Surgical is currently trying to make this surgical procedure more effective.
The Vicarious system is an exceptional medical system, with an incision of 1.5 cm, two robotic arms, and a camera that can be inserted inside the body to perform surgery. This system can also replicate the movements of a surgeon to perform perfect surgery.
Some intense and difficult surgeries that take hours require more precise and careful planning. 3D printing and other stimulation techniques that exist today can offer a lot of help in planning before performing these complicated surgeries.
In the year 2016, a Chinese doctor used a 3D printed model of a heart for planning surgery on a small baby boy who suffered from a rare heart condition. This was the first time in China that a doctor used a 3D model for planning surgery.
Bio-printing is also an emerging trend that will be very effective in the future for repairing skin tissues and bone damage.
With the development of the intelligent surgical knife (iKnife) by Professor Zoltan Takats of Imperial College London a new type of diagnosis method came to light.
With iKnife, the biological sample is vaporized and the smoke is analyzed to detect the chemical components. This test can be very reliable in detecting cancer at an early stage. This method can help to save the lives of many patients in the future.
Technology is gradually revolutionizing the surgery practice and training of medical students and staff. Technologies such as VR, AR, and MR are upcoming methods of training that will polish the skills of future doctors.
Early detection of cancer and other serious diseases will help in saving a lot of lives. Preplanning through 3D printing and simulations can help to do complex surgeries with ease. The surgical-assist robots can help in performing surgery with limited staff. Thus, these methods will entirely change the way of performing surgery in the upcoming years.