Guy’s and St Thomas’ uses virtual reality to boost surgical training

Tuesday 30 August 2022

Emma Fossett

Emma Fossett using the virtual reality technology

Guy’s and St Thomas’ has been using virtual reality technology to help prepare and train its surgeons of the future.

The Trust recently held the largest virtual reality surgical training event in Europe, with more than 30 junior surgeons from across London, faculty members and industry colleagues taking part at the Gordon Museum of Pathology.

The leading edge simulation technology allows trainees to practice and develop their surgical skills in a safe environment before they go into a real operating theatre.

By wearing a headset and holding motion controllers in each hand, the trainees create an avatar and are transported into a virtual lecture theatre before moving onto the virtual operating theatre to practice knee replacements, hip replacements and anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions.

The event was set up by Mr Adil Ajuied, a consultant specialist knee surgeon, Mr Wathik El Alami, an orthopaedic surgeon, and Dr Paul Kelly, a consultant anaesthetist at Guy’s and St Thomas’.

Mr Ajuied said: “Virtual reality is not just for gamers entering an electronic world. This type of surgical training is very much like an aviation simulator – pilots learn how to fly airplanes on the ground before they ever get onto an airplane with passengers. The benefit for our patients is that they will be cared for and treated by surgeons who have had the opportunity to rehearse, practice and run through their surgical procedures.”

Surgical trainees using virtual reality technology

Mr Thomas Lewis, a trauma and orthopaedic surgery specialty trainee, attended the event. He said: “The thing about surgical training is it’s all about exposure to theatre time and patients, but obviously patients don’t want us to be practicing on them so we want to get as much experience before going into theatre as possible. 

“The best thing about this virtual reality technology is it allows us to be in theatre, do procedures, learn all the steps and know exactly what is going on. The benefit for patients in the long run is that the surgeons of the future who will be coming through will have better training, better opportunities and will therefore provide even better care.”

Miss Emma Fossett, a trauma and orthopaedic specialty registrar also attended the event. She said: “Carrying out these operations virtually gave us a chance to see everything as a whole, to get guidance from our instructors in a very safe environment and to figure out new tips and tricks to improve when we are operating in real theatres.” 

Mr Ajuied, Mr El Alami and Dr Kelly worked with PrecisionOS and CONMED to deliver the virtual reality surgical training event, and they plan to run similar training opportunities in the future.

Last updated: August 2022

Contact us

Media enquiries
Phone: 020 7188 5577
Email: [email protected]