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As reported in MIT Tech Review ... A new simulator that lets neurosurgeons rehearse before operating--like pilots on a flight simulator--could revolutionize how doctors train for and handle brain surgery.

NeuroTouch, the prototype simulator developed by Canada's National Research Council (NRC) and several other research groups, gives surgeons a dry run in virtual reality before entering the operating room, potentially reducing mistakes.

First, patient data from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is rendered into a 3-D, high-resolution model of an individual's brain. After the model is loaded into the system, doctors can touch and manipulate tumors and other virtual objects on screens in real time using a physical instrument resembling a scalpel. The instrument has six degrees of freedom and re-creates the force-feedback of the real tool and the varying resistance of tissue in brain regions with differing toughness. Meanwhile, photo-realistic on-screen imagery shows the simulated surgery, including bleeding and pulsing gray matter...

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But how many neurosurgeons have the time to do this pre-surgical rehearsal? They receive no reimbursement for the time. It seems to me that only in the most difficult of cases this would be used, and even then it is doubtful.

But I am a skeptic!

-Gerry Higgins

As always, you bring up those sticky issues of business reality! Thanx for keeping my feet firmly grounded.



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