We propose to devise and deploy an integrated virtual surgery simulator to transform training and surgical planning in cardiovascular medicine. By advancing science in graphics, visualization and real-time simulations, and interfacing with virtual reality (VR) technology, we will offer clinical trainees unprecedented depth of insight into cardiac physiology and pathology, accelerating knowledge acquisition and intuition-building that takes years with standard approaches. Equipped with immersive patient-specific visualizations, physicians will 'preview' the effects of surgical techniques on blood flow and physiology, quickly testing many what-if scenarios over a large design space. While surgeons currently teach trainees time-honored techniques in a steep and high-stakes learning curve, novel and intuitive VR environments will enable rapid, lower-stakes exploration. Despite advances in cardiovascular patient-specific modeling and simulation, current virtual surgery capabilities are limited to cumbersome by-hand model manipulations and blood flow simulations run on high-performance computing clusters for days at a time. These complexities preclude hands-on use by clinicians and often limit models to a small cohort of anatomic designs. There is, therefore, a pressing need for scientific and technological advances to enable seamless manipulation of anatomic geometry and simulations that can provide real-time feedback. To drive this technology, we aim to overcome critical methodological barriers through the following aims: 1) Develop computer-graphics tools for efficient model manipulation, 2) Integrate reduced-order modeling with visualization to create a real-time interactive experience, and 3) Develop and deploy an interactive VR educational environment for medical students and clinical trainees, complete with case studies and interactive experiences. To quantify impact, we will design and carry out educational assessments measuring the ability of our technology to accelerate learning among medical trainees. To ensure success, we have assembled an expert interdisciplinary team spanning cardiovascular biomechanics, computer graphics, technology in education, and clinical cardiology. Ultimately, the proposed tools will also drive clinical innovation. Since many cardiovascular surgical approaches have changed little in decades, a longer-term goal is to launch clinical studies demonstrating impact on patient outcomes, allowing surgical planning and customization for individual patients.
We aim to create an integrated virtual surgery simulator to transform training and surgical planning in cardiovascular medicine, overcoming limitations of current methods requiring cumbersome by-hand model manipulations and long simulation times. Using intuitive and interactive virtual reality simulations, physicians and medical trainees will preview the effects of surgical techniques on blood flow and physiology, quickly testing many 'what-if' scenarios before going into the operating room.