FundamentalVR launches virtual surgery trainer with tactile feedback

Its first U.S. programs will focus on orthopedic hip, knee and spine procedures, with cardiovascular and general surgery offerings slated for 2019. (FundamentalVR)

FundamentalVR is launching a virtual reality surgery training platform using haptics and physical feedback to create a tactile, flight simulator-like experience for surgeons.

The software platform, Fundamental Surgery, aims to recreate the real-life sensations of using several different medical tools with tissue, muscle and bone in a variety of procedures. Using off-the-shelf hardware, the London-based company aims to make its hands-on system available for less than the cost of a single surgical training cadaver.

Its first U.S. programs will focus on orthopedic training, including posterior hip replacements, total knee arthroplasties and spinal pedicle screw placements. FundamentalVR plans to offer additional orthopedic procedures before the end of the year, with other disciplines such as cardiovascular and general surgery going live in 2019.

“Our mission is to democratize surgical training by placing safe, affordable and authentic simulations within arm’s reach of every surgeon in the world,” Richard Vincent, founder and CEO of FundamentalVR, said in a statement.

Typically, surgical training consists of classroom-based theory, theater-style viewing of cadaver-based teaching, observation in the operating room, limited hands-on cadaver practice, and closely monitored involvement with live patients, as well as, increasingly, online videos.

“With the help of some of the top minds in medicine, as well some of the most advanced VR and haptic programmers, we have created a solution that can be deployed anywhere—with limited investment—to allow surgeons to learn and hone their skills over and over again in a safe and controlled environment,” Vincent said.

RELATED: Digital Surgery partners with U.K. hospitals to bring GPS-style directions to the operating room

The software works with any modern PC or laptop, a standard VR headset and two widely available haptic arm devices. During each simulation, users can receive real-time feedback on instrument use and technique, procedural accuracy and impact on the patient.

In addition, FundamentalVR’s system can randomly present rare complications or scenarios that can occur during live procedures, such as unexpected bleeding, abnormal anatomy or a change in a patient’s condition.

“Just as pilots train for bird strikes or engine failure, this capability better prepares the surgeon and facilitates better patient outcomes,” the company said.