Surgeons Get A “Flight Simulator” For Brain Surgery

Surgeons at one of New York’s largest hospitals will begin prepping for brain surgery with a computer simulation that bills itself as a “flight simulator” for difficult clinical procedures. Surgical Theater is an Israeli-American company whose main product is a computerized surgery rehearsal system which transforms patients’ MRI and CT scans into fully immersive simulations; the surgeons then use scalpel-like controllers to rehearse brain surgery. Founders Moty Avisar and Alon Geri are both Israeli Air Force veterans. The company’s promotional materials claim they use “flight simulation technology applied to brain surgery.”

“At Mount Sinai we’re committed to using the most advanced technology, science and engineering for the benefit of our patients. Using tools like the Surgical Rehearsal Platform in our patient care helps us keep that commitment,” said neurosurgery chair Dr. Joshua B. Bederson in a release. “We anticipate using this technology will support our mission to provide outstanding quality of care to our patients and will provide long-term risk reduction and efficiency improvement, both key in helping hospitals provide high quality and cost-effective care.” Apart from surgery rehearsals generated by computerized renderings of patients’ MRIs, the product also includes telesurgery components that let surgeons guide medical staff through surgery rehearsal from a distance.

Surgical Theater’s product is relatively new; the FDA only approved it in early 2013 and it’s so far only in a handful of hospitals nationwide. Increased processor power and further innovations in haptic feedback mean simulating surgery and rendering fully immersive simulations of patients is easier than ever.

For more on neurosurgery at Mount Sinai, Fast Company‘s Justin Rocket Silverman spoke with Dr. Raj Shrivastava, a neurosurgeon who performed brain surgery on him, earlier this year.NU