Using Virtual Reality to Take a Closer Look at Congenital Fetal Conditions

Physicians from our Fetal and Pregnancy Health Program are pioneering the use of virtual reality to educate patients and train care providers. Yair Blumenfeld, MD, Director of Fetal Therapy, and Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and his colleagues at the Johnson Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Services utilize virtual reality to simulate treatment for twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) and spina bifida.

In the simulations, families, trainees and physicians are able view the fetus from inside the uterus. In the case of twin-twin transfusion syndrome, the simulation allows the viewer to see the imbalance of vasculature between identical twins, and practice ablation to redistribute blood flow. In the spina bifida simulation, the viewer is able to take a closer look at the exposed spinal cord and witness how fetal surgeons place the chord back into the body, and patch closed surrounding tissues.

These simulations offer patients and trainees a novel way to understand the manifestations of these congenital fetal conditions and the cutting-edge treatments offered at Stanford.