Virtual reality technology helps surgeons practice and prepare

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Joe Torres has the latest on virtual reality technology being used to practice surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

No complications. No blood.

No problem for Dr. Yuri Pompeu, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Eyewitness News caught up with the 32-year-old resident as he practiced partial knee replacement surgery using virtual reality technology inside the hospital's simulation lab.

"There is no substitute for the real muscle memory of dealing with actual tissue and the patient in the operating room," said Pompeu. "But absolutely - as a supplement and a complement to everything else that we do, it's very valuable."

Practice makes perfect.

The $3,000 technological investment allows the hospital's 45 orthopedic residents to better prepare for complicated knee surgeries, hip replacements, and spinal procedures.

At the end of each session, the application provides a numerical score.

"It lets them practice in a very safe environment," said Dr. Mathias Bostrom. "It lets us assess their performance and lets them assess how they're doing as well. And they can do it over and over again."

The creator of the VR application, Dave Howe, is both an orthopedic surgeon and a video gamer.

After repeatedly being pulled out of surgery to search Google or YouTube for guidance on a particular technique, Howe finally realized there was an opportunity here.

"We see this as something that can be used really effectively leading up to a cadaveric lab," said Howe, founder of Osso VR. "So when a surgeon comes into a cadaver lab they aren't learning from scratch. They already have a baseline of knowledge."

A spokesperson for the Hospital for Special Surgery tells us the facility is one of the first to implement the new virtual reality technology.

Osso VR says future software updates will include commonly encountered surgical complications and even more realistic anatomical graphics.

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