Frontiers of virtual reality use in clinical practice explored at MMVR 2001

Amsterdam 24 February 2001Traditionally, Newport Beach's Marriott Hotel in California was chosen as the venue for the ninth edition of the annual "Medicine Meets Virtual Reality" (MMVR) event, held January 24-27, 2001. The conference proceedings have now been published as the 81st volume in the series dedicated to Studies in Health Technology and Informatics by IOS Press in Amsterdam. This MMVR 2001 edition exceeds all previous ones with no less than 112 papers, presenting state-of-the-art applications in Virtual Reality for the health care practice, under the highly imaginative title "Outer Space, Inner Space, Virtual Space".


The renowned Dr. Richard M. Satava, Professor of Surgery at Yale University School of Medicine, introduces the comprehensive volume with a visionary view on what he describes as the birth of the "BioIntelligence Age", marked by a growing sense for interdisciplinary research between the biological, physical and information sciences. At the intersection of these fast evolving disciplines, the exciting challenge emerges to build a networked universe, smarter than the world we face today, and able to generate new life forms. The impact on medicine would be tremendous if scientists succeeded in creating artificial organs by putting stem cells on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) equipped with a decision support system. Whether this type of "cellular cyborg" might turn out to be a Faustian bargain, will wholly depend on the cautious approach of the research agencies, according to Dr. Satava.

The three-fold concept of outer, inner, and virtual space is well addressed in the MMVR 2001 proceedings with a major focus on simulation techniques to visualise and treat inner lesions of the human body. Some thirty papers are dedicated to the use of surgery simulators for training conditions in order to improve skill performances in cardiac, laparoscopic, endoscopic, orthopaedic and neuro-surgical interventions. Simulation of outer space medical support during long space missions is described in two papers whereas use of virtual reality training to give medical assistance in military operations or cope with situations of disaster and crisis is handled in four other studies. Immersion into virtual environments is applied for psychological therapy in Italy, Korea, and the United Kingdom. This technique is also used for medical training.

Approximately ten studies deal with theoretical issues of simulation whereas another 10 presentations, mostly from German researchers, report about the challenges of computer-assisted surgery. The art of 3D imaging to visualise inner organ structures is focused in almost 15 contributions. Use of virtual reality simulation in combination with the Internet has grown to become a popular tool for medical education given the advantage of shared multi-user environments which can be generated at a relatively low cost. An account of the different training modules in distributed environments is provided by a number of researchers who have built up vast experience in this area. The MMVR 2001 proceedings include 53 papers from United States scientists, 47 European contributions, 8 studies conducted in Asia, 3 in South America, as well as 1 in Canada.

  • Medicine Meets Virtual Reality 2001 - Outer Space, Inner Space, Virtual Space
  • Edited by James D. Westwood, Helene M. Hoffman, Greg T. Mogel, Don Stredney, and Richard A. Robb.
  • Published by IOS/Ohmsha Press - Amsterdam/Berlin/Oxford/Tokyo/Washington, DC
  • 2001 - 609 p.
  • ISBN 1 58603 143 0
  • Available from Marcella Janmaat at IOS Press - Nieuwe Hemweg 6B - 1013 BG Amsterdam - The Netherlands
    Phone: ?31-20-688-3355 - Fax: ?31-20-620-3419 - E-mail:

Leslie Versweyveld

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