In a world first, surgeons in France have successfully used a virtual reality headset to aid them in a brain surgery operation to remove a tumor. The conscious patient was played a piece of VR software that activated certains parts of the brain that would normally be far more difficult to test.
The operation, which was performed last month at Angers University Hospital in Western France, enabled surgeons to monitor the neural connections in the patient's brain while removing the cancerous growth. "In creating a completely artificial world for the patient, we could map certain zones and connections of his brain related to functions that we could not, up to now, easily test on the operating table," comments Philippe Menei, a neurosurgeon at Angers University Hospital.
Performing brain surgery on conscious patients is nothing new (in fact it's quite a common practice considering the delicate and precise nature of the organ they're working with) so the use of VR as a means of visual stimulation seems a far more logical step than it first appears.
It's also not the first time we've seen VR used in medicine either. Last year, researchers at the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute in Canada have been trialing the use of virtual reality in the treatment of Parkinson's. A version of Oculus Rift (and bizarrely a PlayStation Move controller) were used to stimulate a patient's brain while surgery was performed to alleviate the disease.
Why not check out: Google's new VR headset might not need a smartphone or a PC to work