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Virtual reality and cardiac anatomy: Exploring immersive three-dimensional cardiac imaging, a pilot study in undergraduate medical anatomy education


Virtual reality and cardiac anatomy: Exploring immersive three-dimensional cardiac imaging, a pilot study in undergraduate medical anatomy education



Clinical Anatomy 32(2): 238-243



ISSN/ISBN: 0897-3806

PMID: 30295333

DOI: 10.1002/ca.23292

Cardiac anatomy can be challenging to grasp because of its complex three-dimensional nature and remains one of the most challenging topics to teach. In light of some exciting technological advances in the field of virtual reality (VR), we sought to test the viability and the assess efficacy of this computer-generated model for the purposes of teaching cardiac anatomy. Before learning cardiac anatomy, first-year undergraduate medical students participated in an anatomically correct VR simulation of the heart. Students were randomly distributed into control and variable groups. Each student completed a pre-intervention quiz, consisting of 10 multiple choice questions with 5 conventional cardiac anatomy questions and 5 visual-spatial (VS) questions. The control group continued to independent study, whereas the variable group subjects were exposed to a 30-min immersive cardiac VR experience. At the end of the intervention, both the groups underwent a separate post-intervention 10-question quiz. Forty-two students participated in the cardiac VR experiment, separated into 14 control and 28 variable subjects. They scored 50.9% on average on the pre-intervention quiz (SD = 16.5) and 70.2% on the post-intervention quiz (SD = 18.7). Compared to the control group, the students exposed to VR scored 21.4% higher in conventional content (P = 0.004), 26.4% higher in VS content (P < 0.001), and 23.9% higher overall (P < 0.001). VR offers an anatomically correct and immersive VS environment that permits learner to interact three-dimensionally with the heart's anatomy. This study demonstrates the viability and the effectiveness of VR in teaching cardiac anatomy. Clin. Anat. 32:238-243, 2019. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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