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New neuroanatomy lab bridges virtual reality, operating room

image.img.620.highStanford’s Department of Neurosurgery has a new anatomy lab next door to its virtual reality center. Together, the labs are a valuable resource for trainees and surgeons alike.

“Our anatomy labs have all been coordinated at outside facilities, and for people on call, they can’t just go 30 minutes away to do a lab,” said neurosurgery resident Linda Wei Xu, MD. “It’ll be great to have our own lab for day-to-day use.”

The off-campus labs focused on theoretical cases. With their own lab on the Stanford campus, residents will be able to practice for specific cases, Xu said.

By donning virtual-reality goggles and using handheld controllers, residents can navigate through an actual patient’s neuroanatomy, manipulating it — rotating structures, removing obstructing tissues — as they explore.

The operating system can also travel beyond the simulation lab, wheeled on to operating rooms and clinics. Surgeons can use the system to plan operations and guide their instruments during surgery, like a 3-D GPS system. In the clinic, patients are able to visualize their conditions in a new, totally customized way.

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