Visualising CT-Scans in immersive 3D Virtual Reality

Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer and the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. Surgery is the gold standard for providing the best chance of curation for patients with early stage lung cancer. Currently, the most commonly performed surgical procedure for complete tumour removal is called lobectomy, which is the removal of an entire lung lobe where the tumour is located. MedicalVR’s PulmoVR innovation enables thoracic surgeons to cure patients with lung cancer by preventing the unnecessary removal of healthy lung tissue, resulting in a ‘lung-sparing surgical procedure’ for lung cancer.

For adequate lung tumour removal, a thoracic surgeon relies on CT-derived patient-specific anatomic knowledge of vascular and airway lung anatomy. Moreover, a surgeon needs to identify the anatomic lung lobe borders within a lung, to determine safe surgical margins for complete removal of a tumour through lobectomy. However, smaller anatomic parts of the lobes, which are called segments, cannot be visualised with CT. MedicalVR’s PulmoVR product facilitates lung sparing surgery through our proprietary 3D virtual reality (VR) software. We do this by visualising the tumour and its relation to the anatomic borders of these smaller anatomic units called lung segments. This means, that PulmoVR allows the surgeon to remove a tumour more precisely by enabling the performance of a segmentectomy instead of a lobectomy, meaning that more healthy lung tissue is saved for the patient.

PulmoVR’s solution benefits the patient’s health outcomes after surgery, since less healthy tissue is removed. Patients mostly benefit in terms of preserved lung function (better quality of life) and more reserve lung tissue (for future lung removal in case of cancer recurrence). More interestingly, for otherwise inoperable patients (e.g. when lobectomy would be physically ‘too stressful’ for a patient), an increased chance of curation would be provided by facilitating a lung-sparing treatment. Another benefit for the surgeon is an enhanced preoperative preparation quality through better visualisation of anatomical structures.

PulmoVR’s VR-based visualisation of patient-specific anatomy is being implemented at the department of cardiothoracic surgery at Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam. Even though in a research setting, more than 20 patients have already been treated successfully with a segmentectomy thanks to PulmoVR. On the 20th of November, PulmoVR was launched with its lung-sparing surgery tool comprised of an integrated solution, based on VR and artificial intelligence technology. This tool provides surgeons with an automatic visualisation of the lung tumour and segmental borders, and additionally, visualises vascular/airway anatomy in an intuitive and easy to manipulate virtual environment.

PulmoVR applies a razor & blade business model consisting of a fixed fee for the integrated VR hardware and a fixed price per patient’ analysis of segmental and vascular/airway lung anatomy. Short term goals are to focus on market entry in the Netherlands and build a community of active PulmoVR users. Within the next year, MedicalVR’s team hopes to acquire CE/FDA approval for PulmoVR to enable international growth. When solid business fundamentals are in place, liver, cardiac, and orthopaedic surgery modules will be developed and launched next to the PulmoVR product. This MedicalVR product portfolio diversification strategy will cater to various surgical specialties.

MedicalVR’s multidisciplinary team consists of a powerful blend of experiences, including cardiothoracic surgeons, physicians, clinical researchers, software engineers, a medical device specialist, and business developers. MedicalVR’s team has access to continuous input from key opinion leaders in the clinical field (currently Erasmus Medical Center) who have fundamentally contributed to making this a technological and clinically relevant break-through.

Chris Hordijk
Amir H. Sadeghi
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Chris Hordijk