Surgeons at the Royal London Hospital became the first to live-stream a 360-degree video of a medical operation, which began at 1 p.m. BST on Thursday. The routine procedure, led by Barts Health NHS Trust cancer surgeon Shafi Ahmed, involved removing cancerous tissue from a male patient’s bowel.
While the general public may take interest in the video for entertainment, Ahmed told the Guardian that filming such surgeries could offer a practical means for training medical students.
“It is actually quite cost effective,” Ahmed told the Guardian.
The virtual reality-inspired surgery was shot with two 360-degree cameras and multiple lenses in the operating room. The public could watch the live-stream of the surgery online, but aspiring surgeons using the footage for training could also view it through the “VR in OR” app with a virtual reality headset paired with a smartphone, according to the Guardian.
This technology toolkit, Ahmed said, has the potential to replace in-person training for students who live remotely.
“There will be noise, there will be the immersive factor— so that will add different layers of educational value,” he told the Guardian.
Ars Technica reported surgeons used Mativision cameras, which are usually used in live concerts. Barts Health NHS Trush and Mativision collaborated with Medical Realities, a venture founded by Ahmed. The company aims to use virtual reality to solve global health issues.
The surgery was expected to last two to three hours, and the patient, a 70-year-old male British man who was unnamed, reportedly consented to his operation being filmed.