Chintan Rao, D.O., Ph.D., Chairman of Urology at Trigone Medical Center in Washington, DC had a rare experience during a ureteroscopy.
Dr. Rao explains, “I was playing Cave Traveler 2.0 right before the procedure. The game takes place in a flight simulator. You have blasters, lasers, and a wingman. The goal is to destroy stalagmites and stalactites: calcium salt deposits. In the OR I had my Bluetooth fob around my neck. My cellphone was in the OR on a table. We conducted a time out, and I proceeded to the right ureter. I advanced further. Suddenly, the anatomy changed. There were many huge stones. I activated the laser, and it was more powerful than I realized. The sound of stones being pulverized reminded me of Cave Traveler. Stones disintegrated left and right!”
Joshua Fortune, D.O. a urology fellow, noticed an amazing bit of work. “Dr. Rao was more efficient than usual in breaking up stones. I took over for my part of the procedure, but all the stones were gone. There was nothing for me to do.”
Dr. Rao continues, “That’s when I realized that Cave Traveler was still active on my phone. The game graphics integrated into the procedure. That’s the great twist. I had full access to the capabilities of all the game blasters and lasers. I turned to my wingman – I mean my fellow – and I realized our mission was completed.”
The Cave Traveler graphics had superimposed over the procedure camera giving Dr. Rao high-definition graphics and literally the efficiency of a Cave Traveler. The overlap with the game lasted only 5 minutes. But it worked with amazing precision.
Dr. Rao was ecstatic about the results. “We need to combine the game algorithms with all ureteroscopies. I am researching if we can get FDA approval for all Cave Traveler gaming tools: the laser, the blaster, and the stalagmite crusher for use on ureteral stones.”
We are not sure if the FDA will approve virtual gaming blasters. And this may be the first time that gaming algorithms were used during a surgery. We’ll follow Dr. Rao’s journey to towards FDA approval.