Virtual Reality as an Educational and Training Tool for Medicine

  • Santiago González IzardEmail author
  • Juan A. Juanes
  • Francisco J. García Peñalvo
  • Jesús Mª Gonçalvez Estella
  • Mª José Sánchez Ledesma
  • Pablo Ruisoto
Education & Training
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Emergent Visualization Systems in Biomedical Sciences (TEEM 2017)


Until very recently, we considered Virtual Reality as something that was very close, but it was still science fiction. However, today Virtual Reality is being integrated into many different areas of our lives, from videogames to different industrial use cases and, of course, it is starting to be used in medicine. There are two great general classifications for Virtual Reality. Firstly, we find a Virtual Reality in which we visualize a world completely created by computer, three-dimensional and where we can appreciate that the world we are visualizing is not real, at least for the moment as rendered images are improving very fast. Secondly, there is a Virtual Reality that basically consists of a reflection of our reality. This type of Virtual Reality is created using spherical or 360 images and videos, so we lose three-dimensional visualization capacity (until the 3D cameras are more developed), but on the other hand we gain in terms of realism in the images. We could also mention a third classification that merges the previous two, where virtual elements created by computer coexist with 360 images and videos. In this article we will show two systems that we have developed where each of them can be framed within one of the previous classifications, identifying the technologies used for their implementation as well as the advantages of each one. We will also analize how these systems can improve the current methodologies used for medical training. The implications of these developments as tools for teaching, learning and training are discussed.


Virtual reality medical simulator Stereoscopic vision Immersive system Medical training Virtual training tool 360 images 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. 1.
    Buschmann, F., Meunier, R., Rohnert, H., Sommerlad, P., and Stal, M., Pattern-oriented software architecture. A system of patterns. Vol. 1. Wiley, New York, USA, 1996.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Morales-Ávalos, R., Elizondo-Omaña, R.E., Vílchez-Cavazos, F., Martínez-Ponce de León, A.R., Elizondo-Riojas, G., Delgado-Brito, M., Cortés-González, P., Guzmán-Avilán, R.I., Pinales-Razo, R., de la Garza-Castro, O., and Guzmán-López, S., Fijación vertebral por vía transpedicular. Importancia de los estudios anatómicos y de imagen. Acta Ortop. Mex. 26(6):402–411, 2012.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Joo-Nagata, J., Martínez Abad, F., García-Bermejo Giner, J., and García-Peñalvo, F.J., Augmented reality and pedestrian navigation through its implementation in m-learning and e-learning: Evaluation of an educational program in Chile. Comput. Educ. 111:1–17, 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Basdogan, C., Ho, C.H., and Srinivasan, M.A., Virtual environments for medical training: Graphical and haptic simulation of laparoscopic common bile duct exploration. IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatron. 6(3):269–285, 2001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Chan, S., Conti, F., Salisbury, K., and Blevins, N.H., Virtual reality simulation in neurosurgery: Technologies and evolution. Neurosurgery. 72:A154–A164, 2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Marescaux, J., Clément, J.M., Tassetti, V., Koehl, C., Cotin, S., Russier, Y., Mutter, D., Delingette, H., and Ayache, N., Virtual reality applied to hepatic surgery simulation: the next revolution. Ann. Surg. 228(5):627–634, 1998.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Seymour, N.E., Gallagher, A.G., Roman, S.A., O’Brien, M.K., Bansal, V.K., Andersen, D.K., and Satava, R.M., Virtual reality training improves operating room performance: results of a randomized, double-blinded study. Ann. Surg. 236(4):458–464, 2002.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Wilkerson, W., Avstreih, D., Gruppen, L., Beier, K.P., and Woolliscroft, J., Using immersive simulation for training first responders for mass casualty incidents. Acad. Emerg. Med. 15(11):1152–1159, 2008. Scholar
  9. 9.
    Yang, Y., Guo, X., Yu, Z., Steiner, K.V., Barner, K.E., Bauer, T.L., and Yu, J., An immersive surgery training system with live streaming capability. Stud. Health Technol. Inform. 196:479–485, 2014. Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mosadeghi, S., Reid, M.W., Martinez, B., Rosen, B.T., and Spiegel, B.M., Feasibility of an immersive virtual reality intervention for hospitalized patients: An observational cohort study. JMIR Ment. Health. 3(2):e28, 2016. Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kilmon, C.A., Brown, L., Ghosh, S., and Mikitiuk, A., Immersive virtual reality simulations in nursing education. Nurs. Educ. Perspect. 31(5):314–317, 2010.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Silverstein, J.C., Walsh, C., Dech, F., Olson, E., Parsad, N., and Stevens, R., Multi-parallel open technology to enable collaborative volume visualization: How to create global immersive virtual anatomy classrooms. Stud. Health Technol. Inform. 132:463–468, 2008.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Izard, S. G., and Méndez, J. A. J., Virtual reality medical training system. In Proceedings of the fourth international conference on technological ecosystems for enhancing multiculturality. 479–485, 2016.
  14. 14.
    Ruíz-Parra, A., Ángel-Muller, E., and Guevara, O., La simulación clínica y el aprendizaje virtual. Tecnologías complementarias para la educacion medica. Rev. Fac. Med. 57:67–79, 2009.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Becker, A.A., Jones, I.A., Glover, A.T., Benford, S.D., Greenhalgh, C.M., and Vloeberghs, M., A virtual reality surgery simulation of cutting and retraction in neurosurgery with force-feedback. Comput. Methods Programs Biomed. 84(1):11–18, 2006. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Santiago González Izard
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Juan A. Juanes
    • 3
  • Francisco J. García Peñalvo
    • 3
  • Jesús Mª Gonçalvez Estella
    • 3
  • Mª José Sánchez Ledesma
    • 3
  • Pablo Ruisoto
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.ARSOFT, Augmented Reality Software S.L.SalamancaSpain
  2. 2.University of SalamancaSalamancaSpain
  3. 3.Visual Med Research GroupUniversity of SalamancaSalamancaSpain
  4. 4.European University of MadridMadridSpain

Personalised recommendations