Patients, doctors see organs up-close using virtual reality

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — New technology is giving medical professionals an up-close look at their patient’s organs. Dr. Matthew Bramlet is a cardiologist at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and OSF Healthcare Children’s Hospital of Illinois.

For years he has experimented with 3D replicas of hearts based on scans from former patients. Bramlet then began an advanced image modeling lab within the OSF Healthcare Jump Simulation and Education Center.

Soon after he discovered virtual reality imaging which allows the user to view a 3D image from every angle in a VR environment. This is what some doctors and patients are calling a game-changer.

Doctors usually refer to cat scans or MRIs to understand a patient’s health complications, but with virtual reality, they can get a closer look at organs and disease.

We’re taking what used to be just a bunch of 2D representations of the anatomy that we have to put together in the OR to come up with a plan sort of at that moment and now we’re able to present the surgery in front of the surgeon in full 3D…

Dr. Matthew Bramlet, Cardiologist, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria

Some doctors said years ago they did not think programs like this were realistic.

If you watch movies about the future in that sort of setting you could imagine stuff like that would be possible.

Dr. Sonia Orcutt, M.D. Assistant Professor of Surgery, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria

In 2018, Dr. Bramlet founded a company called Enduvo. It provides software that allows instructors to create a virtual reality environment that includes pictures, videos, audio, and recorded lessons.

I’m excited about this because there has never been a tool that allows us to create what is in our mind and understanding of a three-dimensional scenario a three-dimensional object and really teach about that.

Dr. Matthew Bramlet, Cardiologist, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria

Patients share in Dr. Bramlet’s excitement. One of them is Todd Chitwood who has a unique heart condition.

It gives me confidence in my doctors or surgeons even if I don’t know them I know that they can take the rendered image of my heart and turn it twist it enlarge it cut through it to see the internal structures.

Todd Chitwood, Patient

Chitwood said it is comforting and relieves anxiety knowing that virtual reality can give doctors a better understanding of his complex health issues.

There have been a couple of times that what we saw on the virutal reality it just made things so much clearer that we had to change our incision, we had to change how [many] organs we were cutting out because it was a lot clearer when we saw it in 3D.

Dr. Sonia Orcutt, M.D. Assistant Professor of Surgery University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria

This technology even allowed Chitwood to interact with his own body.

“I can look at an MRI, I can look at an X-ray or any image or an echocardiogram and it’s all greek to me,” Chitwood said. “With this, I can understand the image [and] exactly what they are trying to explain and do.”

This software is also used for more than medical practices. It’s also used in Military applications for training personnel.

Dr. Bramlet is expected to be one of the great Central Illinoians featured in Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis’ State of the City Address.

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