BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK: Northern Ireland
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

BBC NI's Maggie Taggart reports
"Surgeons practise in virtual reality"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Patients to benefit from hi-tech advances
 Queen's University in Belfast
Queen's is involved in the project
The Royal Group of Hospitals and Queen's University in Belfast are linking up to carry out groundbreaking medical research in Northern Ireland.

A joint research team, called AIM or Advanced Informatics in Medicine, will have its own premises beside the Royal Victoria Hospital in the west of the city.

The scheme, which has cost 2.7m to set up, will combine research work from the departments of engineering, psychology, computing and medicine.

The team's first projects include better ways of diagnosing cancers as well as training for surgeons in keyhole surgery through computers.

Less risk

The skills required for keyhole surgery are difficult to learn, and through advanced technology surgeons can practice in virtual reality, which is less stressful and less risky to patients.

The team are also looking at using technology to utilise information resources contained in family general practitioner files.

Dr Peter Hamilton, a pathologist, who is one of the team leaders in the project, said patients would benefit as the new skills were passed on to GPs.

"A number of the groups already have a very strong record in the area but the unique thing is taking these experiences and the advances which we have already been developing and applying this to news areas such as general practice and primary care and this is going to be a major step forward for the province."

Recovery time

The equipment used to teach keyhole surgery virtually is like a computer game with sound effects.

Keyhole surgery has a quicker recovery time than traditional surgery and the process is also cheaper.

In the project computers are used to give a more reliable diagnosis of cancer, from biopsies taken from patients.

The research project has been welcomed by the vice-chancellor of Queen's, Professor George Bain.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

04 Apr 00 | Education
More money for university science
01 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Package to aid mature students
12 Jan 00 | Northern Ireland
Students opting for NI universities
03 Dec 99 | Northern Ireland
NI's universities attract poorer students
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Northern Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Northern Ireland stories