When it comes to metaverse, many people imagine a space dedicated to entertainment. However, the application possibilities of this technology go beyond fun, being found in many professional environments, such as hospitals and clinical laboratories, where it helps specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
The Dasa group, one of the leading integrated health brands, is an example of how the immersive digital environment can be used to solve physical problems. Recently, a team of doctors conducted surgery to separate craniopagus twins – babies who were born joined at the skull – using the metaverse to plan the procedure.
This type of operation has been around for a few years, but is considered to be of high severity. To reduce the risks, the professionals decided to reproduce the skull together in the digital universe and, thus, discuss the intervention with a multidisciplinary team with members spread across Brazil and other countries.
The gynecologist and obstetrician Heron Werner followed the pregnancy of the mother of the twins and remembers that it was only possible to complete the separation when the children turned 4 years old. “They were separated little by little, the whole process had nine stages. At each stage, we held surgical planning meetings, using 3D printing and artificial intelligence,” he highlights.
Before the last phase, where the separation itself takes place, Brazilian doctors joined specialists from England – who already had more experience in this type of surgery – within an artificial platform to discuss the clinical case and define the best path for the procedure. .
They then did the final surgery planning in the metaverse. Only one member of the British group came to Brazil to participate in person in the operation. “I believe that, in the future, he won’t even have to come here, he just needs to show up at the surgery with augmented reality glasses and join the medical team”, says Werner, also coordinator of the biodesign laboratory at Dasa, which maintains the project in partnership with the Institute of Applied Mathematics (IMPA) and PUC-Rio.
Use of the metaverse in medicine
The metaverse is an online universe that can be built around the needs of a business. In the health area, it is intended to strengthen the exchange between doctors, enabling more opinions to be heard about a case, even at a distance, which provides greater effectiveness in the investigation of trauma while speeding up the treatment path.
By allowing an immersive contact, when related to other advanced technologies, such as computed tomography, this virtualization allows professionals to have a more detailed notion of the problem. That’s because they can scan, handle and access an organ internally.
BUSINESS season participated in an experiment inside a fetal medicine room, an environment that had large, detailed versions of the female reproductive system. The report accessed the fallopian tube, a structure that is responsible for taking the eggs from the ovary to the uterus. “We are inside the cavity, which is based on microtomography. These are real images, obtained through exams”, explained the laboratory team.
Dasa has carried out experiments with some partner hospitals, such as São Lucas, in Rio, in a process that has already been defined, as explained by gynecologist Werner. First, the doctors send a complex picture to the biodesign lab, which reproduces it in the metaverse in more detail. Afterwards, teams connect in the simulated environment – with augmented reality glasses – and discuss the case on the spot.
The plan is to extend the technology to the entire network of clinics and hospitals and also to take the knowledge to universities. “We can teach classes within the structure itself”, predict the specialists.
Artificial intelligence in medical decision support
Algorithms are also part of another technology front in the network of laboratories and hospitals, supporting the clinical team. Felipe Kitamura, superintendent of applied innovation and artificial intelligence at Dasa, highlights that 20 AI (artificial intelligence) systems are active to deliver more conclusive diagnoses to doctors and patients.
In the respiratory field, based on chest tomography, an analysis system can quantify the degree of pulmonary involvement of someone with covid-19, for example. In orthopedic cases, with radiographs of the hand and wrist, other algorithms are capable of defining the bone age of the limbs.
In addition to supporting the discovery of pathologies, these systems accelerate the treatment process. Instead of waiting for the patient to return to the clinic to get the test result – and even reschedule an appointment with their doctor – professionals who accompany artificial intelligence systems are able to send the diagnosis directly to the doctor.
“We do not interfere in the care journey, nor in the clinical contact”, Kitamura emphasizes. “The algorithm complements the doctor, and the two working together provide a better return to patients”, she concludes.
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