Virtual Reality in the Preoperative Planning of Adult Aortic Surgery: A Feasibility Study

Djamila Abjigitova*, Amir H. Sadeghi, Jette J. Peek, Jos A. Bekkers, Ad J.J.C. Bogers, Edris A.F. Mahtab

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Complex aortic anatomy needs careful preoperative planning in which a patient-tailored approach with novel immersive techniques could serve as a valuable addition to current preoperative imaging. This pilot study aimed to investigate the technical feasibility of virtual reality (VR) as an additional imaging tool for preoperative planning in ascending aortic surgery. Methods: Ten cardiothoracic surgeons were presented with six patients who had each undergone a recent repair of the ascending aorta. Two-dimensional computed tomography images of each patient were assessed prior to the VR session. After three-dimensional (3D) VR rendering and 3D segmentation of the ascending aorta and aortic arch, the reconstructions were analyzed by each surgeon in VR via a head-mounted display. Each cardiothoracic surgeon completed a questionnaire after each planning procedure. The results of their assessments were compared to the performed operations. The primary endpoint of the present study was a change of surgical approach from open to clamped distal anastomosis, and vice versa. Results: Compared with conventional imaging, 80% of surgeons found that VR prepared them better for surgery. In 33% of cases (two out of six), the preoperative decision was adjusted due to the 3D VR-based evaluation of the anatomy. Surgeons rated CardioVR usefulness, user-friendliness, and satisfaction with median scores of 3.8 (IQR: 3.5–4.1), 4.2 (IQR: 3.8–4.6,) and 4.1 (IQR: 3.8–4.7) on a five-point Likert scale, respectively. Conclusions: Three-dimensional VR imaging was associated with improved anatomical understanding among surgeons and could be helpful in the future preoperative planning of ascending aortic surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2022


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