Teams located in different countries gathered in the same virtual room, participating in simulations and manipulating 3D images to decide the best approach to surgery. They interact through their avatars, that is, their virtual versions. If necessary, they have the possibility of making the same virtual encounter in a 3D scenario of a fallopian tube, to facilitate the anatomical understanding of the structure of this part of the female reproductive organ.
Although the limits of the applications of the metaverse in health are still unknown, at Dasa, the largest integrated health network in Brazil, the results of this immersive virtual reality already indicate significant achievements in diagnosis, treatment, planning, clinical outcome and execution of surgeries, in addition to medical education. “Dasa is increasingly strengthening the teaching, research and innovation triad, with a focus on improving people’s quality of life, whether healthcare professionals or patients,” says Dr. Flávia Paiva Lopes, executive manager of the Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa Dasa (IEPD) and medical manager of scientific research at Dasa.
“Artificial intelligence is behind all the development that involves these new technologies,” says Dr. Heron Werner, specialist in fetal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology at Alta Diagnostics and CDPI, diagnostic medicine brands belonging to Dasa, and coordinator of the Biodesign Lab, a laboratory maintained through a partnership between Dasa and PUC-Rio.
Reference in the development of virtual reality technologies and 3D printing for several areas of medicine, the Biodesign Lab was conceived to work in an innovative way with ultrasound, tomography and magnetic resonance images, which are processed with the purpose of helping in diagnosis and therapeutic plans. “Not to mention the fact that they become a study tool in medical schools and facilitate doctor-patient interaction,” notes Dr. Heron Werner. “The person gains empowerment by understanding what is happening and what the stages of a proposed surgery will be like, for example. This gives security”, ponders Dr. Flavia Paiva Lopes.
Models at your fingertips: more accurate diagnoses
“Every image made in any device, whether ultrasound, tomography or resonance, is segmented, that is, prepared plane by plane to generate a virtual 3D model”, describes Dr. Heron Werner. “Three-dimensionality improves visualization. In my area of expertise, gynecology and obstetrics, these resources facilitate the understanding of some type of malformation in complex pathologies”, he exemplifies. Likewise, it helps in the dialogue with other medical specialties. “If I suspect the existence of a genetic abnormality in a fetus, a 3D reconstruction is used in discussion with a geneticist to close the diagnosis”, he adds.
The three-dimensional images of the exams, analyzed in all their details, can be generated in 3D printers for the construction of palpable models or be directed to virtual reality viewing devices, where they are observed with the use of special glasses.1 “It is also possible that they integrate an augmented or mixed reality environment, in the form of holography. Or, even, forwarded to a complex immersion in the metaverse, where specialists can meet and visualize the exam at the same time to discuss surgical or treatment strategies”,1 says Dr. Heron Werner.
for dr. Flávia Paiva Lopes, by allowing simulations, the applicability of the metaverse and associated technologies in medicine are countless. They guarantee, for example, more precision and reduce the risk of complications in surgeries. “Doctors can discuss each step. With this, the team is better prepared for eventualities, saves time and works much more safely”, she observes.
That’s what happened, recalls the doctor, in a recent case of considerable repercussion, that of craniopagus babies, anatomically united by the heads, separated in a surgery that required several steps to complete. “All the planning was based on these new technologies. The entire multidisciplinary team could understand what was happening. The report of the responsible neurosurgeon drew attention, telling us that, at certain times, he used brain models in 3D to better understand what needed to be done”, emphasizes Dr. Flavia Paiva Lopes.
The Doctor. Heron Werner has followed the twins’ case since they were in the womb. “The information was generated and added up during pregnancy. As it was a very complex situation, we offered both 3D printed and virtual reality images to the team that was following the case,” he says. “Another possibility in circumstances like this is to use mixed reality, possible with the use of glasses that allow the observation of 3D images while viewing the surgical field. Another option is to merge the virtual image with the physical image of the patient. Everything contributes to increasing the precision of surgical movements”, adds the specialist in fetal medicine.
Multidisciplinary discussions and medical training
Remote meetings with specialists in a virtual environment are already a reality in medicine and should be an increasingly used resource. “In the case of the craniopagus twins, an English doctor participated in the last of nine surgeries performed to complete the separation. The planning for this was done in the lab, via metaverse, with the whole team in a virtual room manipulating the images. Then the English surgeon came to Brazil for the final procedure, but soon even that won’t be necessary. We already have technology that will allow remote collaboration in surgeries. The arrival of the 5G connection, faster, will accelerate this scenario”, predicts Dr. Heron Werner.
Also in the field of medical education, Dr. Flávia Paiva Lopes sees a path full of possibilities, with immersive training for students. “The use of these technologies amplifies the capillarity of knowledge, with professionals from different areas working on the same research project, from designers to researchers and doctors”, she says.
Bioprinting: the customization of treatments
The transformation of digital models into physical parts through 3D printing begins to generate solutions for tissue regeneration in cases of serious injuries. The innovative procedure was presented at Hospital Nove de Julho, in São Paulo, which is part of Dasa, in July. Two innovative surgical procedures were performed in the country for tissue regeneration in patients with severe injuries. The technique makes use of a 3D bioprinter that, in 30 minutes, synthesizes the tissue used to repair the injured region from the patient’s own stem cells. “The potential of this innovation is enormous. Rehabilitation and the quality of regeneration are very beneficial for patients, who regain their quality of life. In addition, the technique is another solution that physicians gain to achieve a better clinical outcome,” says Dr. Bruno Pinto, director general of Hospital Nove de Julho.
“The lesion was scanned and the images were taken to a software that gives a volumetric view of the problem. This final image was sent to the bioprinter”, explains Dr. Heron Werner. Stem cells were collected from the adipose tissue of the patient’s abdomen, then mixed with a biological compound to give rise to the impression of the new tissue – which covers the entire lesion, including its depth, favoring healing faster than in therapy. conventional. “As the patient’s own stem cells are used, the risk of rejection is minimized. Bioprinting opens an important front in regenerative medicine”, adds the doctor.
In this context, Dr. Flávia Paiva Lopes also envisions the possibility of using bioprinting in research for the development of dermatological products, for example, using human tissues and, therefore, without testing animals. “The possibilities are numerous. In the future, we believe it will be possible to develop models for building organs,” she concludes.
Know more: https://spatial.io/s/Biodesign-Fetal-628d522a593f95000175185c?share=2981096703873694422
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