BOSTON (CBS) – Virtual reality is being used in healthcare more, and a local company is using the technology to help doctors identify hard-to-see tumors in the bladder.
Almost 80,000 Americans are diagnosed with bladder cancer every year. To find bladder tumors, a urologist looks directly at the inside of the bladder using a cystoscope, a small tube with a camera and light attached.
Some tumors are harder to find. But to make it easier, many cystoscopes are equipped with technology called narrow band imaging (NBI).
“What NBI does is it changes that light so that it turns it to a bluish green color that allows you to see cancerous lesions a little bit easier and studies show quite a bit easier,” says Dan Greenwald, CEO and Chief Creative Officer of White Rhino, a Lexington-based marketing firm.
White Rhino was hired by Olympus, a company known for their cameras, but also their cystoscopies, to help familiarize urologists with NBI.
“We created a virtual reality experience that allows a urologist to go inside a human bladder, turn on NBI and see how much easier it is to find lesions compared to white light,” explains Greenwald.
White Rhino essentially developed a VR video game. The more tumors you zap, the higher your score.
One point for the big ones, which are easier to find. More points for the little ones.
The VR experience has been well received by urologists and studies show narrow band imaging can, in fact, help identify more tumors.
“It would make me feel incredible to know that we had saved even just one life through this technology,” says Greenwald.
White Rhino is also working on virtual reality technology for kids undergoing painful procedures so they can escape their reality, even just for a little bit.