A Customized Virtual Reality Experience for Simulating Magnetic Resonance Imaging Exams
Purpose or Case Report: Background: Image quality in MRI is often degraded by patient motion. To reduce the need for repeat exams, sedation or general anesthesia is used in pediatric patients. This requires additional clinical staff, and leads to increased scheduling wait times and overall procedure times that impact workflow. Many institutions prepare children for MRI using mock-up replicas. While effective in acclimating patients to the MRI environment, the availability of mock-up practices are often limited. Mock-ups also require physical space and do not simulate the full MRI environment and exam experience.
Purpose: We build an affordable, scalable, and portable immersive virtual reality (IVR) platform for simulating MRI exams. Specifically, we designed an IVR environment that accurately mimics a Siemens 3 Tesla suite within our Radiology practice, including intricate details such as room size, color, lighting, ancillary equipment, pulse sequence audio, and background noise. The IVR platform also attempts to simulate the complete sequence of events and environments a child will experience during an exam, including the check-in process, interactions with staff (e.g., nurses, technologists), the waiting area and changing rooms, the positioning and motion of the MRI table, placement of coils, and within-exam instructions, such as breath-holds. Our platform also allows the patient to move around in the VR space and interact with the environment. Additionally, the platform can be easily converted to mimic any other MR suite. We hypothesize that our platform can be easily adopted by Child Life and hospital staff to quickly acclimate a patient and assess whether he/she can suitably undergo an MRI exam without sedation or general anesthesia.
We believe the IVR platform can overcome the limitations of mock-up replicas. First, IVR has a smaller footprint and is scalable and portable across the hospital. This allows multiple IVR sessions to be held in parallel. Second, IVR can give the patient a hospital-specific and scan-specific first-person experience. The patient can interact with realistic 3D representations of the MRI environment and processes. Our current implementation of IVR was developed using HTC VIVE headsets with a dedicated laptop for control. To further improve portability, the IVR setup can be adopted using simple goggles and handheld devices. This will enable future IVR sessions to be conducted at the bedside, in patient’s homes, and in referring physician offices. Methods & Materials: Results: Conclusions:
( Nationwide Children's Hospital
, United States