Virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) technologies have been widely used in medical fields, such as surgical simulation, healthcare, surgical navigation, computer assisted diagnosis, medical visualization and translational medicine. In this special issue, we include 6 research papers on the application of VR/AR to medical simulation, which can be divided into two sets, including surgical simulation and medical modelling/analysis.
The complexity and potential risk of the surgery prevent novice doctors from practicing it on real patients. Thus, surgical simulation is employed to simulate surgical procedures to train medical professionals without requiring patient, cadaver or animal. For the surgical simulation topic, Fan Ye et al. propose an orthodontic simulation system for bracket placement training. The system can simulate the entire procedures interactively with haptic feedback, and has the ability to support personalized case training. Benefitting from the real-time rendering and high rate haptic rendering, the novice doctor can feel the stiffness difference between teeth and gums, and learn the essentials of surgery without practice on real patient. Haoyu Wang et al. propose a catheter ablation simulator. The interactive behavior between guidewire and pigtail catheter is simulated. The high fidelity heart-beating is reconstructed using a position-based dynamics framework. The user evaluation shows that the VR-based training is better than the traditional training methods in most aspects. Yonghang Tai et al. introduce an AR-based thoracoscopic surgery training system. Compared with the VR-based training, the AR-based visual-haptic system provide a more close-to-real training environment. Experimental results show that the system can improve the training effect of surgical training.
So far, medical imaging is the best way to observe the physiology and pathology inside the body. Medical image modelling and analysis have been extensively researched. For the medical modelling/analysis topic, Xin Wang et al. propose a novel surface mesh reconstruction algorithm based on edge growth. Compared with the original marching cube algorithm, the novel method uses 17 topological configurations. Experimental results show that they can effectively remove the potential holes caused by ambiguity in the reconstructed 3D model. Based on the digitalized visible human research achievements of China, Na Zhang et al. propose a digital human model via organically integrating human cross-section images, 3D anatomical structure, anatomical knowledge, CT/MRI images and micro-class videos. The cross-section images are acquired by milling cadaveric specimens with the cryogenic milling technique. Further, an anatomy teaching system is developed based on the digital human model. Meanwhile, the feature matching between virtual and real objects is vital to VR/AR systems. To this end, Xiaojiao Song et al. propose a topological distance-constrained feature descriptor and a learning model for coronary angiographies. Experimental results show that the feature matching accuracy and stability of their method is superior to those of the existing state-of-the-art models.
As the guest editor, I would like to thanks all the contributors and the reviewers for these papers. 'VR + Medicine' is one of the most attractive research fields in future. Many research institutions have been gradually increasing their support for the application of VR/AR to medicine. We hope this special issue will provide useful reference for readers engaged in the related technology research and applications.