VR Offers an Up-Close Look at COVID-19 Lung Damage

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1000 648 David Hoppe

Dr. Keith Mortman, Chief of Thoracic Surgery at George Washington University Hospital, has created a virtual reality simulation of coronavirus-damaged lungs using a CAT scan from a patient in his late 50s. The patient had to be intubated and put on a ventilator after a quick progression of the illness.

Collaborating with the medical technology company Surgical Theater, Dr. Mortman created a colorized replica of the patient’s lungs that vividly depicts parts of the patient’s lungs where they have been damaged by the virus.

“It’s quite alarming to see, in all honesty,” said Dr. Mortman, “because unlike your garden variety pneumonia that might affect only one small part of the lung, or unlike the common flu, what you’re seeing in this video is really the widespread damage to the lung, and you can see in vivid color how it affects not only both lungs, but many different parts of both lungs.”

Dr. Mortman’s motivation for generating the simulation was two-fold. First, he wants to help medical professionals better understand the impacts of the disease. Second, he hopes to educate the public on the severity of COVID-19. He believes that this visual glimpse into the reality of how the virus impacts human health will motivate people to take mitigation practices such as physical distancing more seriously.

Wearing a VR headset, users can see in intense detail, and from a variety of angles, the damage done to the lungs. In addition, those not wearing a VR headset can see the impact via a video depiction.

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David Hoppe

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