July 26, 2017 -- Physicians at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital in Minneapolis successfully separated conjoined twin babies by first using virtual reality models created with MR and CT images to plan the surgery, according to a Washington Post report.
Two months before the procedure, pediatric surgeon Dr. Daniel Saltzman, PhD, and colleagues used virtual reality glasses to examine a 3D model of the hearts of Paisleigh and Paislyn Martinez, infant twins attached from their lower chest to their navels in a condition called thoraco-omphalopagus. Saltzman's group, along with researchers at the University of Minnesota's Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center, used software to turn MR and CT scans into virtual models of the babies' hearts, according to the Post.
The glasses helped Saltzman's team discover connective tissue that linked the girls' hearts, a defect that meant the lives of both were in danger, the article said. Improperly severing that connection could result in the twins bleeding to death.
Through the model, the team determined the best way to proceed with the surgery, according to the article. The university's Visible Heart Lab also produced a 3D-printed model of the hearts.