Oxford University physiologist Peter Kohl believes surgeons will be using virtual reality to simulate alternative operations within 10 years. Computer models will enable surgeons to experiment on a virtual surgical table, discover the best way to proceed with a procedure, and also lead to faster operations. The Europe Union has been funding an effort to create biomedical models that simulate the human body structurally and functionally.
"We have developed better tools to look at smaller parts of the puzzle in terms of structure and function," says Kohl, one of the principal investigators of the Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) initiative. "We now need to understand how the pieces interact with each other and the environment." Kohl acknowledges that some people will have their doubts about using a quantitative computer model to assess patients' surgical options. He says a thorough assessment of the computer predictions used for medical procedures will be needed to determine VPH's reliability.
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