Assessment of Contemporary Virtual Reality Programs and 3D Atlases in Neuroanatomical and Neurosurgical Education

Authors

  • Nicolas Alcalá, MD Department of Urology, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, 3800 Reservoir Road, Washington, 20007, DC, United States https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7428-5657
  • Martin Piazza, MD Department of Neurosurgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, 321 S Columbia St, Chapel Hill, NC, 27516
  • Gene Hobbs Department of Neurosurgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, 321 S Columbia St, Chapel Hill, NC, 27516
  • Carolyn Quinsey, MD Department of Neurosurgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, 321 S Columbia St, Chapel Hill, NC, 27516

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.47265/cjim.v1i1.572

Keywords:

virtual reality, neurosurgery, medical education, neuroanatomy, surgery

Abstract

Statement of Significance

The utilization of innovative technologies in medical education has received increasing attention in both undergraduate and graduate medical curricula. Understanding spatial, physiological, and pathological aspects of neuroanatomy are important for medical students and residents, alike. As virtual reality applications and platforms become more accessible to educators, learners, and the general public, such technology now represents a feasible modality of neuroanatomical education. This qualitative observational study compares and evaluates five programs based on the accessibility, breadth of content, and utility for various learner populations.

Objective: Virtual reality (VR) is a growing technology of interest in medical education, particularly as the millennial generation has become the primary learners. We sought to compare the five available and affordable neuroanatomical programs with objective comparisons of the neuroanatomy, format, and target audience.

Methods: The following programs were included: Sharecare VR, Organon VR, The Neurosurgical Atlas 3D Operative Neuroanatomy, BioDigital 3D Human Anatomy, 3D Brain. These programs were selected based on their price ($0-30) and platform (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, iOS, Google Chrome). The following neuroanatomical categories were assessed: CNS, Cranial Nerves, PNS Skull, and Spine. Neuroanatomical level of detail was scored from 0 (absence of structure) to 3 (operative anatomy). Points were provided if programs included explanations of neuroanatomical relevance, models of pathology & physiology, references, and quiz features. These scores were tallied and compared.

Results: The Neurosurgical Atlas and BioDigital scored highest (22 points each), followed by Organon VR (11), 3D Brain (9), and Sharecare VR (6). The Neurosurgical Atlas had the most detail with a score of 3 in each neuroanatomical category. BioDigital included more, but simpler, models. 3D Brain included simple CNS models, but useful explanations and references. Disappointingly, the VR-exclusive programs had entertainment-only models (Score = 1).

Conclusions: The Neurosurgical Atlas is the most relevant and detailed model of neuroanatomy and is most appropriate for resident- or attending-level anatomic review. The remaining programs lacked detailed neuroanatomy limiting their potential for a neurosurgical audience.

References

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Published

2021-09-28

How to Cite

Alcala, N., Piazza, M., Hobbs, G., & Quinsey, C. (2021). Assessment of Contemporary Virtual Reality Programs and 3D Atlases in Neuroanatomical and Neurosurgical Education. Carolina Journal of Interdisciplinary Medicine, 1(1), 26 -. https://doi.org/10.47265/cjim.v1i1.572