Archie, six months old, was born with an abnormal condition in which his skull growth lines had fused prematurely.
The parents had to decide whether they would take the surgery risks or allow nature to handle the psychological and physical consequences.
However, Amanda Michnowiec was able to visualize the potential changes ahead of time thanks to cutting-edge technology.
According to the doctor, this information is far more than what most parents are able to get.
Virtual Reality (VR) solutions
Archie has a condition called Sagittal Synostosis. It means his skull can’t grow in the right direction to support it as his brain develops.
Instead it expands at the front and rear, distorting your head shape.
Although the condition does not pose a danger to life, speech and language delays, along with increased intracranial pressure, can be caused by it.
Amanda said her son’s mother that the experience was overwhelming. His mother Amanda said, “There were a lot appointments. It took a lot away from me.” [from work]”.
Amanda and Judd were not afraid to accept the offer from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children to try a new AI platform. This AI platform predicts what will happen in a virtual reality operation that could change the course of your life.
The immersive environment enabled them to view, from every angle, an image of Archie’s head that was generated using a CT scan. The green overlay was the reconstruction of his head after the procedure.
These algorithms were possible thanks to the use of 60 data operations from the past seven years.
Amanda stated after the consultation, “We are excited and there is always that worry about what he will have done.”
It’s overwhelming to absorb all of it, but it is comforting to know what to expect and how to get there. We won’t be left wondering and waiting.
The technology allows couples to not only see the differences but also encourages them to make suggestions to the surgeon.
Consent to be ‘truly informed’
According to Dr Noor Ul Obase Jeelani (a consultant paediatric neurosurgeon at this hospital), the technology gives the couple a more accurate picture of their future.
“Now when they sign their consent forms, that’s what I would consider truly informed consent.”
“What I’d like to be a surgeon in 10 or 20 years is to see that the majority of surgical practice happens this way, where control and power are very much shared between the parents and patients.”
Archie was admitted to surgery a few weeks later after his parents had confirmed that he would be having the operation.
A small spring was inserted into the skull of Mr. Smith, and immediately corrected his head.
This VR environment also demonstrated the impact and placement of this spring. The spring was finally removed after four weeks.
This technique, which Dr Jeelani invented 13 years ago has reduced the time to perform surgery from 3 hours to 40 minutes and cut down on blood transfusions up to 90%.
This makes it easier to predict outcomes and has enabled VR visualisations of 90% accuracy.
The technology was originally developed to treat a single condition. However, there is hope that the technology can be used for many other kinds of surgeries in the future.
“What we have seen is basically proof of principle,” Dr Jeelani said. It is possible to accurately predict the future if you have a condition or an art form and you make it fine enough so that it can be studied.
Archie and his family have been doing well for two weeks following surgery.
Amanda expressed relief that they are now on the right side. “We were told there should not be concerns about development or other things so it was a great experience.
“Having the ability to use VR was a great way for us to feel confident in our decision-making.
That pressure was relieved by being able to clearly see both the “before” as well as “after”. This was an enormous weight lifted off of our shoulders, and we are happy.
You can watch the entire video that documents Archie’s trip. viewed right now on iPlayer.
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