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IMAGE: Ziv Haskal, M.D., of the University of Virginia Health System, has created a virtual reality training tool for one of the most complex radiology procedures. view more 

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Physicians, trainees and even laypeople can now experience what it’s like inside the operating room as an expert radiologist performs one of the most difficult medical procedures of its kind.

Ziv Haskal, MD, of the University of Virginia Health System, has created a dramatic teaching tool using the power of virtual reality. Whether watched on a high-end VR system or a $15 cardboard viewer, Haskal’s virtual procedure puts the viewer right in the operating room with him as he creates a new blood vessel through a small nick in a patient’s neck.

It’s a complicated procedure – Haskal calls it an “interventional radiology heptathlon” – and his use of VR is set to transform how it is taught. “The current means of teaching is a physical person has to arrive … and go over with the doc beforehand. Or they have to look at a lousy 2D animation on a screen,” Haskal said. “Once you put [VR] glasses on people, it’s like you walk them through a completely different door.”

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