Virtual Reality View of Surgery Live-Streamed for First Time to Audience Worldwide

PHOTO: Dr. Shafi Ahmed wants to create virtual reality surgeries for med students. Dr. Shafi Ahmed, Medical Realities
Dr. Shafi Ahmed wants to create virtual reality surgeries for med students.

U.K. doctors turned the operating room into a virtual reality experience today by using a special camera to live-stream a 360-degree view of a procedure to users worldwide.

Dr. Shafi Ahmed performed an operation to a live audience, all of whom could see the procedure feet away from the surgeon thanks to the new technology. The streaming event was launched by Medical Realities, co-founded by Ahmed, which aims to reduce the cost of medical training by utilizing new technology such as virtual reality.

Ahmed, a laparoscopic and colorectal surgeon, has worked with his team to create "Virtual Surgeon," a pilot program that would allow medical students to practice surgeries inspired by actual operations before setting foot into an operating room. Ahmed showed today how the training program can work by filming an actual operation with a 360-degree camera and streaming the footage to medical students and interested users.

PHOTO: An undated handout image shows a 360 view of Dr. Shafi Ahmeds operating room. Dr. Shafi Ahmed, Medical Realities
An undated handout image shows a 360 view of Dr. Shafi Ahmed's operating room.

"It’s as close as you can get to replicating it," Ahmed told ABC News in a previous interview of virtual reality capabilities.

For today's procedure, Ahmed surgically removed cancerous tissue from a patient at the Barts Health Royal London Hospital.

The goal is to create content that allows a medical student to stand in the shoes of a veteran surgeon. The live-streamed surgery was just a first step for the team. They plan to create a library of operations all with a 360-degree view to be used as medical educational material, Ahmed said.