New virtual Surgical Theater created in Cleveland will help surgeons perfect surgeries

By Alicia Scicolone | ABC News – Cleveland | May 1, 2012

University Hospitals neurosurgeons are on the cutting edge of life-saving surgery, thanks to help from Israeli Air Force officers. Together, they created the only Surgical Theater in the world. It simulates surgery before the patient even enters the operating room doors.

The Surgical Theater is about as high-tech as it gets and its inception was by a chance meeting. University Hospitals experts and the Air Force officers believe the meeting was a fateful one, that the two were put together to help save lives.

It all started about three years ago, when University Hospitals Neurosurgeon-in-Chief Dr. Warren Selman happened to be getting his daily cup of coffee at a local shop, and overheard a man talking about once being in the Israeli Air Force as an engineer. The man mentioned he was working locally with a fellow Israeli Air Force fighter pilot to help their company at the time, Lockheed Martin, develop advanced and mission specific realistic flight simulators. The flight simulators give pilots the chance to practice a mission before it’s executed.

As he continued to listen to the man, Dr. Selman immediately thought of his patients at University Hospitals. He envisioned that same technology helping brain surgery patients, specifically those who have an aneurysm.

Dr. Selmen began thinking of all of the positive possibilities this technology and practice could offer to patients prior to their surgery. Just like the flight simulators, this technology would help surgeons be their best with an intricate surgery.

Selman approached the man, who introduced himself as Moty. After talking with Moty about what he heard, Dr. Selman’s own mind started to wonder — could this technology work for surgery? So he had Moty asked his co-worker Alon what the chances are to create something like this for hospital patients. It was then they all decided to join forces and help University Hospitals create the first-ever surgery simulator.

Two years later, through the process of trial and error, the Neurological Team at University Hospitals and the former Israeli military officers, Moty Avisar and Alon Geri, developed what they call the Surgical Theater, a virtual program that helps surgeons simulate intricate surgery, just like a flight simulator helps the Air Force practice a critical mission.

Both Avisar and Geri said it was worth the work and are hoping Surgical Theater will save lives.

Selman plans to use the Surgical Theater first with a brain aneurysm, one of the most complex procedures any neurosurgeon performs. Though this new technology, experts can see the patient’s aneurysm in 3-D, and from front to back, which a normal MRI or CT scan can’t provide. The surgeons use the patients original scans and import them into the Surgical Theater which then transforms the patient’s original images and allows the surgeon to be able to virtually operate on the person. The technology allows the surgeon to practice until they find the perfect way to stop the aneurysm in its tracks.

Another benefit is that as surgeons practice, they can also work on blood vessels or brain tissue while working on the aneurysm virtually. It’s all done using a robotic hand tool maneuvered around like a scalpel.

The critical decisions the surgeon can perform as he or she is practicing makes their brain remember the path that was successful during the virtual surgery, and also shows the clinical benefit right away from the images being worked on through the Surgical Theater.

Avisar and Geri will continue to work with University Hospitals and hope to eventually have the Surgical Theater put in hospitals across the country.


To read the full article from, click here.


Leave a Reply