VR-Trip Takes Inside an Infected COVID-19 Lung
COVID-19 or more popularly known as Coronavirus has gripped the world. With more than 25,000 fatalities and over 600,000 cases detected so far, it is pervading every sanctum of our lives either directly or indirectly. This latest immersive rendering shows the unique and useful ways in which immersive technologies can be used to simulate current events and foster a deeper understanding of some of the calamities afflicting us.
A COVID-19 begins with a mild fever along with flu-like symptoms and may deteriorate into a decline in the patient’s breathing capacity. So far, however, it hasn’t been easy to see how the disease actually affects the lungs.
With virtual reality headsets, virtually anyone interested in learning more about the disease can immerse themselves inside a COVID-19 infected lung.
The 3D visualization of the COVID-19 lung was generated by the George Washington University Hospital in Washington DC. The visualization was generated from CT scans of the lung of a 50-year coronavirus patient. The visualizations clearly illustrate how the virus settles in a person’s lung in severe cases and how it causes inflammation across the entire lung.
In the visualization, the blue parts show the healthy lungs while the yellow parts show the parts of the lung that have been attacked by coronavirus.
The 3D visualization was codeveloped by the head of cardiac-thoracic surgery at the clinic Dr. Keith Mortman and Surgical Theater which develops Virtual Reality imaging software based on real-world data to generate medical-grade 3D visualizations. Mortman has used the software in the past to show images of esophageal tumors or lungs prior to the performing of surgeries. After he took a CT scan of a COVID-19 patient, he chanced upon the idea to show these images in VR at the height of the global pandemic.
Apart from displaying the raw impact of the virus is spreading through the lungs, the 3D visualization also shows how a patient’s body reacts to COVID-19 through the creation of multiple inflammation zones which will collectively stifle the normal capacity of the lung to an extent where patients will need hospitalization with either a ventilator or breathing tube. It shows how the virus severely damages both lungs diffusely.
One discovery that the 3D visualization brings out and which is perhaps not known to the general public is that coronavirus survivors may end up with lasting lung damage if the inflammation caused fails to subside over a period of time at which point the inflammation will effectively scar the lungs and impact the ability of survivors to breathe over the long term.
VR Travel Inside the Body
The 3D visualization was implemented using software from Surgical Theater. The company has also been using virtual reality headsets for immersive rendering of the inside of a person’s body for the past four years.
The software processes 3D models of body organs using imaging techniques. Mortman has been using the company’s 3D visualizations to educate patients on procedures prior to the performing of surgeries.
Mortman hopes that the “flythrough” of the COVID-19 infected lungs will scare viewers enough to enable them follow preventative measures and keep themselves and loved ones safe by observing quarantines, keeping safe distance, staying at home and washing hands to prevent community infection. Below is a full video of a COVID-19 infected lung.