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Virtual Reality Surgical Simulators

Improvements in quality and safety standards in surgical training, reduction in training hours and constant technological advances have challenged the traditional apprenticeship model to create a competent surgeon in a patient-safe way. As a result, pressure on training outside the operating room has increased. Interactive, computer based Virtual Reality (VR) simulators offer a safe, cost-effective, controllable, and configurable training environment free from ethical and patient safety issues.

Two prototype, yet fully-functional VR simulator systems for minimally invasive procedures relying on flexible instruments were developed and validated. NOViSE is the first force-feedback enabled VR simulator for Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES) training supporting a flexible endoscope. VCSim3 is a VR simulator for cardiovascular interventions using catheters and guidewires. The behaviour of the virtual tools and its computational performance was evaluated using quantitative and qualitative measures. The instruments exhibited near sub-millimetre accuracy compared to their real counterparts. The proposed GPU implementation further accelerated their simulation performance by approximately an order of magnitude.

The realism of the simulators was assessed by face, content and, in the case of NOViSE, construct validity studies. The results indicate good overall face and content validity of both simulators and of virtual instruments. NOViSE also demonstrated early signs of construct validity. VR simulation of flexible instruments in NOViSE and VCSim3 can contribute to surgical training and improve the educational experience without putting patients at risk, raising ethical issues or requiring expensive animal or cadaver facilities. Moreover, in the context of an innovative and experimental technique such as NOTES, NOViSE could potentially facilitate its development and contribute to its popularization by keeping practitioners up to date with this new minimally invasive technique.

Przemysław Korzeniowski obtained his MSc in Advanced Computing<Biomedical Applications> from Imperial College London in 2010. In 2016, he defended his PhD thesis on “Modelling and simulation of flexible instruments for Minimally Invasive Surgery in Virtual Reality” at Imperial’s Department of Surgery and Cancer, where he was a member of Simulation and Modelling in Medicine and Surgery (SiMMS) Research Group. His work and research at SIMMS focused on the development and validation of virtual reality simulators which helped surgeons to gain their operative skills in a virtual computer environment, without patient-safety issues or ethical concerns.

After defending his PhD, Przemek moved to Germany to gain practical experience in the industry at the R&D Department of Volkswagen Group. He was a key team-member of a newly established Virtual Engineering Lab, which was at the forefront of digital transformation of the whole Konzern. His task was to ideate, develop and deploy virtual and augmented reality software for new car development, which disrupted traditional car development processes. In mid-2021 Przemek joined Sano as Head of VR and Robotics. He got fascinated by possibilities of merging Sano’s expertise in machine learning with his simulated virtual environments.
His main research interests are virtual and augmented reality, real-time physically-based simulation, massively-parallel computing, haptic interfaces as well as aspects of software engineering and architecture of simulation software.

Przemysław Korzeniowski

Sano – Centre for Computational Personalised Medicine – International Research Foundation


Monday, 24 January 2022, 2:00-3:30 PM (CET)

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