Viewing the Future in 360°

Texas’ first Surgical Theater debuts in neurosurgery
During the procedure, a monitor displays the 360° scans alongside real-time video transmitted from a headset worn by the surgeon.
The future has arrived for brain surgery at Houston Methodist. Under the guidance of Gavin Britz, MD, Candy and Tom Knudson Centennial Chair in Neurosurgery, surgeons and patients alike can use 360° virtual reality to view the brain in preparation for complex neurosurgical procedures. Beyond 3D technology, the advanced 360° technology allows surgeons and patients to walk inside an anatomical image. Wearing virtual reality headsets, the neurosurgeon and patient can tour the patient’s pathology to increase their understanding of the condition and surgical treatment plan.

In addition to offering comfort and reassurance to the patient, the technology is a powerful tool for providing surgeons with intraoperative visualization and navigation during complex surgical procedures.
Britz, a teacher as well as a surgeon, highlights the technology’s value as a tool for those who are not as skilled or experienced in advanced visualization. It also allows surgeons to give instructions, in real time, across long distances during procedures. Used in several major academic and private institutions in the U.S., Europe and China, Houston Methodist has the only system available in Texas.
“This technology can be a great equalizer for surgeons,” said Britz. “And linking it to artificial intelligence will develop even more efficient and effective processes for future surgeries.”
Aptly named Surgical TheaterTM, the visualization platform creates a 360° visual by combining cutting-edge fighter jet flight simulation technology with a patient’s anatomy scans. The scans draw on medical imaging that comes from CT scans, MRIs and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a special type of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging that maps the brain’s white matter tractography, or nerve tracts.
A good surgeon is like a commander, gathering intelligence and planning ahead as much as possible. The Surgical Theater allows that extra step—a lifelike view—to anticipate what we’ll see and do before an operation.

Gavin W. Britz, MD, MPH, MBA, FAANS
Candy and Tom Knudson Centennial Chair in Neurosurgery
Director, Neurological Institute
Co-director, Center for Neuroregeneration
Professor of Neurosurgery
Houston Methodist

– LaVonne Carlson, October 2019
Britz Surgical Theater 360 view