Virtual patient under the knife on hi-tech operating table

May 28, 2012 | Source: BBC News

Virtual operation (credit: St Mary's Hospital/Imperisl College)

Imperial College, a partner to St Mary’s Hospital, has purchased a £60,000 touchscreen “operating table” that could represent the future for teaching would-be doctors about anatomy and for preparing for real-life operations.

The same length and size as a normal operating table, a “cadaver” on the screen is a virtual body created using a mix of graphics and real CT scans of the body.

Students and surgeons can interact with it either via touch or with a traditional mouse. The body can be stripped back to expose internal organs, areas can be enlarged for more detailed study and the software can work with real patient data.

Dr. Philip Pratt, research fellow at Imperial College, describes the table as a “giant iPad”.

As with a normal computer, USB sticks and other devices can be attached to the table and data added. The table can hold up to one terabyte, which is equivalent to about 1,000 patient cases.

It has already proved very useful in real-life surgery and promises to improve the study of anatomy.