Effect of 3-Dimensional Virtual Reality Models for Surgical Planning of Robotic-Assisted Partial Nephrectomy on Surgical Outcomes: A Randomized Clinical Trial


Importance: Planning complex operations such as robotic-assisted partial nephrectomy requires surgeons to review 2-dimensional computed tomography or magnetic resonance images to understand 3-dimensional (3-D), patient-specific anatomy.


Objective: To determine surgical outcomes for robotic-assisted partial nephrectomy when surgeons reviewed 3-D virtual reality (VR) models during operative planning.


Design, Setting, and Participants: A single-blind randomized clinical trial was performed. Ninety-two patients undergoing robotic-assisted partial nephrectomy performed by 1 of 11 surgeons at 6 large teaching hospitals were prospectively enrolled and randomized. Enrollment and data collection occurred from October 2017 through December 2018, and data analysis was performed from December 2018 through March 2019.


Interventions: Patients were assigned to either a control group undergoing usual preoperative planning with computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging only or an intervention group where imaging was supplemented with a 3-D VR model. This model was viewed on the surgeon’s smartphone in regular 3-D format and in VR using a VR headset.


Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome measure was operative time. It was hypothesized that the operations performed using the 3-D VR models would have shorter operative time than those performed without the models. Secondary outcomes included clamp time, estimated blood loss, and length of hospital stay.


Results: Ninety-two patients (58 men [63%]) with a mean (SD) age of 60.9 (11.6) years were analyzed. The analysis included 48 patients randomized to the control group and 44 randomized to the intervention group. When controlling for case complexity and other covariates, patients whose surgical planning involved 3-D VR models showed differences in operative time (odds ratio [OR], 1.00; 95% CI, 0.37-2.70; estimated OR, 2.47), estimated blood loss (OR, 1.98; 95% CI, 1.04-3.78; estimated OR, 4.56), clamp time (OR, 1.60; 95% CI, 0.79-3.23; estimated OR, 11.22), and length of hospital stay (OR, 2.86; 95% CI, 1.59-5.14; estimated OR, 5.43). Estimated ORs were calculated using the parameter estimates from the generalized estimating equation model. Referent group values for each covariate and the corresponding nephrometry score were summed across the covariates and nephrometry score, and the sum was exponentiated to obtain the OR. A mean of the estimated OR weighted by sample size for each nephrometry score strata was then calculated.


Conclusions and Relevance: This large, randomized clinical trial demonstrated that patients whose surgical planning involved 3-D VR models had reduced operative time, estimated blood loss, clamp time, and length of hospital stay.


Authors: Joseph D. Shirk, MD1; David D. Thiel, MD2; Eric M. Wallen, MD3; Jennifer M. Linehan, MD4; Wesley M. White, MD5; Ketan K. Badani, MD6; James R. Porter, MD7

Author Affiliations: 

1. David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Urology, University of California, Los Angeles
2. Department of Urology, Mayo Clinic Florida, Jacksonville
3. Chapel Hill School of Medicine, Department of Urology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
4. John Wayne Cancer Institute, Providence St John’s Health Center, Santa Monica, California
5. Department of Urology, The University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville
6. Department of Urology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York
7. Swedish Urology Group, Seattle, Washington

Source: Shirk JD, Thiel DD, Wallen EM, et al. Effect of 3-Dimensional Virtual Reality Models for Surgical Planning of Robotic-Assisted Partial Nephrectomy on Surgical Outcomes: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(9):e1911598.

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