University Hospitals' groundbreaking tech enabling doctors to virtually perform surgeries

(Source: WOIO)
(Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Athletes say the key to winning a game is having the right plan in place. The same holds true for surgeons.

And now, virtual reality is helping doctors practice complex surgeries before performing them.

One former Minnesota Twins pitcher was given an inside look at his own procedure.

You can call it an eye-opening experience. Back in the day, Tom Norton struck out future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson with three fast balls.

Fast forward a few decades and Norton is facing his toughest challenge yet: a tumor that was stealing his eyesight.

"I'd been having problems for the last year or so with my eyesight, losing vision in my left eye," said Norton.

Norton, a Sheffield Lake native, took a virtual look at a blue blob, a tumor that was putting pressure on his optic nerve.

Doctors at University Hospitals successfully went in through his nose and cut out the tumor.

Dr. James Wright a neurosurgery resident at University Hospitals explains, "Surgical theater is a surgical rehearsal platform where we take two-dimensional images -- either a CAT scan or an MRI -- and we're able to generate a three-dimensional that can then be used for surgical rehearsal and planning."

Doctors could see the problem before tackling it.

"I think that's one of the things that's most rewarding, being able to talk to people and see that they're excited to be able to understand exactly what's going on. It brings them more to be able to participate in their care," said Wright.

After looking inside his brain with the 3-D imaging, Norton says he understands the process and the procedure better and that's a good thing.

In the end, Norton's surgery was a success.

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