Virtual Reality Technology Takes GW Doctors and Patients Inside The Brain

Danielle C. exercises religiously and makes her health a priority, so when she was suddenly diagnosed with a serious and rare brain condition at age 27, it was a shock. While exercising, she felt a sharp pain in her head that continued to bother her for the next couple of days. “It was the worst headache of my life,” she recalls. She went to see a doctor and learned she had a brain bleed caused by arteriovenous malformation (AVM), an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins.

Providers and patient in the office

She was admitted to GW Hospital, where her medical team explained everything that was happening with support from Precision Virtual Reality™ technology, an advanced system that gives patients a 360-degree view inside their own anatomy. Using a touch screen and a virtual reality headset, Danielle was able to get different views of her brain by turning her head and moving the joy stick.

“Basically it allows our surgeons to map out alternate surgical approaches ahead of time and find the safest and best possible option,” explains Danielle’s neurosurgeon, Anthony Caputy, MD, FACS, chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at The GW Medical Faculty Associates (GW MFA).

Along with Dr. Caputy, her “super-team” included GW MFA physician, Wayne Olan, MD, director of interventional and endovascular neurosurgery; and board-certified neurosurgeon Walter Jean, MD. “I had the best level of care I could have asked for,” Danielle said.

After her surgery, Danielle again used the virtual reality technology, this time to confirm that the AVM was gone. Seeing the results for herself alleviated any potential anxiety and reaffirmed that she was going to be okay. “To be able to see that is amazing,” she says.

“The level of care I felt was unparalleled to any I’ve ever felt in my life.”

About Precision Virtual Reality

Health providers looking at data on screens, wearing their surgery gowns

This innovative, enterprise-wide virtual reality technology provides The GW Medical Faculty Associates' renowned neurosurgeons with a never-before view of the anatomy and pathology of their patients’ complex neurologic conditions. Utilization of Virtual Reality offers an intuitive and immersive approach to patient engagement, allowing surgeons to walk with the patient inside a 360° model based on their own CT and MRI, demonstrating customized digital treatment plans for patients.

Leading edge technology, Precision Virtual Reality by Surgical Theater was inspired by flight simulators designed to train fighter pilots. The platform allows surgeons to:

  • Preview an upcoming surgical procedure much like a fighter pilot can pre-fly a mission
  • Increase situational awareness as they plan a procedure
  • Improve surgical efficiency
  • Potentially reduce complications and procedure time
  • Virtually walk patients and their families through their surgical plan, increasing patient engagement and understanding
  • Hone their skills in a dynamic, interactive environment
  • Collaborate with peers to study new techniques and review patient cases

Schedule an Appointment

To make an appointment with one of our team of neurosurgeons, please call (202) 741-2750.


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