Doctors in Brazil Successfully Separate Conjoined Twins After Preparing for Surgery in VR

The practical applications of virtual reality (VR) go beyond gaming and entertainment, as exhibited by doctors in Brazil who used the technology to practice a complex surgical procedure before the actual thing.

Credit: Carl Beech via Unsplash

According to Agence France-Presse (via The Straits Times), a medical team of over a hundred professionals successfully separated a pair of conjoined twins in what has been described as the "most challenging and complex separation to date”.


The siblings, who were born in northern Brazil in 2018, had their craniums fused together due to an extremely rare condition. They shared several vital veins, which made the separation very risky for both their lives. But the doctors were confident they could do it and it ultimately paid off.

Credit: Reuters

"We're very satisfied with the outcome, because no one else believed in this surgery at first, but we always believed there was a chance," said Gabriel Mufarrej, a neurosurgeon at the Paulo Niemeyer State Brain Institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


The medical team credits part of their success to VR, which enabled them to simulate and prepare for the final and most critical stages of the surgery. They used actual brain scans to create a true-to-life digital render of the twins’ shared cranium and then conducted trial procedures via the trans-Atlantic VR project.


"It's just wonderful, it's really great to see the anatomy and do the surgery before you actually put the children at any risk," said British neurosurgeon Noor ul Owase Jeelani, the lead surgeon for Gemini Untwined, the medical charity that supported the effort.


The siblings reportedly went through a series of operations, culminating in a marathon 27-hour surgery to finally separate them.

Credit: NUH

A similar innovation is also available to medical professionals in Singapore. However, instead of VR, they use highly-personalised, 3D-printed models of the patient’s anatomy to plan and simulate the surgical procedures. The initiative was made possible through the partnership between Johnson&Johnson Singapore and the National University Hospital (NUH) with support from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).

 
  • A medical team of over a hundred professionals successfully separated a pair of conjoined twins in what has been described as the "most challenging and complex separation to date” thanks to the help of VR.

  • VR technology enabled the team to simulate and prepare for the final and most critical stages of the surgery.

  • They used actual brain scans to create a true-to-life digital render of the twins’ shared cranium and then conducted trial procedures via the trans-Atlantic VR project.

  • A similar innovation is also available to medical professionals in Singapore. However, instead of VR, they use highly-personalised, 3D-printed models of the patient’s anatomy to plan and simulate the surgical procedure.

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