As doctors are scrambling to help patients infected with COVID-19—and to better understand the disease in order to help them do so—at least one hospital is using virtual reality to fully explore the impact of this disease on the lungs.
George Washington University Hospital thoracic surgical chief Dr. Keith Mortman and Surgical Theater, a market leader in virtual and augmented reality healthcare services, co-developed a 360° VR fly-through video that shows the lungs of a COVID-19 patient seen by Dr. Mortman. The extent of the damage from COVID-19 is shown by highlighting the affected areas yellow.
“There is such a stark contrast between the virus-infected abnormal lung and the more healthy, adjacent lung tissue,” Dr. Mortman said in a statement. “And it’s such a contrast that you do not need an MD after your name to understand these images. This is something the general public can take a look at and really start to comprehend how severe the amount of damage this is causing the lung tissue. The damage we’re seeing is not isolated to any one part of the lung. This is severe damage to both lungs diffusely.”
Dr. Mortman is also concerned with the fact that even those who survive COVID-19 may still have lasting damage to their lungs.
“When that inflammation does not subside with time, then it becomes essentially scarring in the lungs, creating long-term damage,” he said. “It could impact somebody’s ability to breathe in the long term.”
Watch the full VR video below: