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What Coronavirus Does To Your Lungs, Courtesy Of Virtual Reality

What Coronavirus Does To Your Lungs, Courtesy Of Virtual Reality

lungs
Here’s what coronavirus does to your lungs, courtesy of a new 360-degree virtual reality rendering of an actual COVID-19 patient’s lungs. Photo: pixabay

A doctor at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. has come up with a way for everyone to see exactly what the coronavirus does to your lungs. 

Dr. Keith Mortman, chief of thoracic surgery at George Washington, recently unveiled a 360-degree virtual rendering of lungs from a patient being treated at the hospital, KRON 4 reported.

This might be the first-of-its-kind view inside the lungs of a patient with COVID-19 and it shows the damage the virus can do.

“I really want them to be able to see this and to really understand the damage that’s being done to the lungs — the severity of the disease that this is causing. So perhaps, maybe they think twice before having a house party or going outside to large groups.”

Dr. Keith Mortman, chief of thoracic surgery at George Washington University Hospital

The patient, whose lungs are now available for the world to see, is in his late 50s. He initially had a fever and a non-productive cough like many other people, Dr. Mortman said in a press release for the hospital’s podcast. “Respiratory symptoms progressed quite rapidly, to the point where he did need to be intubated and put on the ventilator.”


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“It’s quite alarming to see, in all honesty,” Mortman said. “Unlike your garden variety pneumonia that might affect only one small part of the lung or unlike the common flu, what you’re seeing in this video is really the widespread diffuse damage to the lung.”

Dr. Mortman came up with the idea of a video to give his staff a more high-tech approach to helping the patient.

“What we’re seeing is that there was rapid and progressive damage to the lungs so that he needed higher levels of support from that ventilator, and it got to the point where he needed maximal support from the ventilator,” Mortman said. The patient was transferred to the hospital for something called ECMO, which stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

During the ECMO procedure, the patient’s blood is taken out of the body, infused with oxygen, then the blood is returned, WTOP reported.

The virtual reality rendering gave the medical staff a clearer view as to what was happening to the patient’s lungs.

The 3D model was produced in partnership with a company called Surgical Theater, using a coronavirus patient’s CAT scan, Fox 40 reported.

“There is such a stark contrast between the virus-infected abnormal lung and the more healthy, adjacent lung tissue,” Mortman said. “And it’s such a contrast that you do not need an MD after your name to understand these images. This is something the general public can take a look at and really start to comprehend how severe the amount of damage this is causing the lung tissue. The damage we’re seeing is not isolated to any one part of the lung. This is severe damage to both lungs diffusely.”

The virtual reality rendering uses color to show what if happening to the lungs.

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“So what you’re seeing in the video, essentially the blue part is the more normal lung, but anything you’re seeing yellow is lung that’s being destroyed by the virus,” Dr. Mortman said.

The virtual reality rendering, Mortman said, will help fight COVID-19. “It’s really to educate them,” he said. “I really want them to be able to see this and to really understand the damage that’s being done to the lungs — the severity of the disease that this is causing. So perhaps, maybe they think twice before having a house party or going outside to large groups.”