Many intracardiac procedures can currently be performed on the heart only after it has been arrested, and the patient has been placed on cardio-pulmonary bypass. We have developed a new method for operating on multiple targets inside the beating heart, and describe a procedure for accessing them under virtual-reality (VR)-assisted image guidance that combines real-time ultrasound with a virtual model of tools, and the surgical environment acquired from pre-operative images. This paper presents preliminary results aimed at assessing the operator's ability to accurately position and staple an artificial valve to a “valve orifice” within a cardiac phantom when guidance is performed via ultrasound alone, and with US augmented by the VR environment.
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