UVA doctor uses virtual reality as teaching tool

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Dr. Ziv Haskal, an interventional radiologist at the University of Virginia Health System, has developed a new teaching tool using virtual reality.

"It's a walk through a door that we haven't seen before," Haskal said.

His specialty treats many conditions with minimally invasive procedures using small tubes.

Using a 360-degree camera, Haskal has filmed one of the most complex procedures he performs, which creates a new blood vessel in the liver.

The video features 10 different shots and multiple angles so the viewer can see the procedure as if they were experiencing it in person.

"With this tool, I realize that we can actually let the doc gear up right then and there, ready, going into battle, know what I'm going to need to do," said Haskal.

Haskal said actually wearing a virtual reality headset is what brings a different perspective.

"It's like walking out form a dark room into the sun, the difference between looking at it on the screen and actually putting the goggles on," he said.

Haskal, who spent years traveling around the world teaching this procedure to other doctors, looks forward to what this new development can bring to the future of medicine.

"The idea that anyone around the world can potentially use this for patients or to improve their skills, to be able to walk through that door of doing it, is really exciting," said Haskal.

He predicts it to be a tool that is regularly utilized in the near future.

"I think that in five years, this is going to be the key, main measure for physician, patient, provider, health care worker education," Haskal said.

The 360-degree video with narration will be available on Haskal's online journal for free.

The video is open-source, meaning anyone with any type of virtual reality headset can view it.

For a link to Haskal's journal, click on the link in the Related Links box.

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