Advancing Medical Education through Medical Animation and Technology

“Operation” has been a popular game for over fifty years, but for those looking for more modern medical education and fun on their handheld device these days, there’s always “Surgeon Simulator”.1

Over time it’s gone from being an amusing cartoon-type medical animation to something more serious and even educational – at least for the non-medical community.

It’s even bamboozled certain experienced professional surgeons, who were reported to have enjoyed the game while failing miserably at it.2

But for less experienced members of the medical community, the gamification of medical education through medical animation does offer definite advantages:  the lack of available cadavers no longer presents a problem, and students can repeat individual actions or entire procedures as many times as they want while receiving instant feedback on their efforts.

For more experienced medical professionals, medical education through device-based gameplay offers the opportunity to expand existing skill sets and develop new ones at their leisure.

For example, there’s Touch Surgery, an app which guides users through their choice of over two hundred surgical procedures with detailed instructions for each phase of that procedure.  And then it tests their knowledge as they “operate” without the benefit of those instructions.3

User reviews confirm the effectiveness of Touch Surgery.  One states: “I survived surgical training in the NHS 7 years ago and only on a handful of occasions was I taught this well.  The craniotomy module brought memories flooding back.  This should be required learning before attending theatre and way better than Bailey and Love.”

Another reviewer simply says: “The operations are a great reference tool. The graphics are amazing”.

And that – effectively – is what makes or breaks medical education of this kind – the graphical animations created to support each game or training module, whether in two dimensions, or three.

Three-dimensional graphics can represent anything from an entire human body down to a single individual protein structure, and when it comes to medical education, 3D animations definitely outperform any two-dimensional teaching material.

For example, we read in the British Journal of Ophthalmology about “Ophthalmic Operation Vienna” – a study assessing “the effect of 3D animations on the understanding of cataract and glaucoma surgery among medical students” which concluded that “The use of 3D animations lead to a better understanding of difficult surgical topics among medical students”.4

And the medical community is taking full advantage of those 3D animations – particularly in terms of medical education.

While Facebook is shutting down many of its in-store demo booths for their Oculus Rift VR system due to lack of consumer demand5 and Microsoft is delaying shipping their HoloLens system to the public for a couple more years6, in the medical world it’s a different story for both systems.

Neurosurgeons across North America have been using those same Oculus Rift goggles to navigate through 3D brain models, in their search for the safest route to the area they’re planning to operate on.7

And Microsoft are collaborating with Case Western Reserve University to provide training via HoloLens for the next generation of doctors.8

But it’s not just the tech giants with billions of dollars to invest in this kind of technology who are capitalising on the speed and efficiency of training using 3D animations.

In Canada, for example, clinicians affiliated with the University of Montreal have developed SIM-K, a virtual reality simulator teaching new doctors how to perform complex knee replacement operations.  Even though it’s a simpler system than those of Facebook and Microsoft it does provide a certain amount of extra realism, with haptic sensors mimicking the buzzing of saws and drills.9  

But none of these applications would be effective without the hard work put in by animation production companies around the world who, in collaboration with medical scientists, create the kind of medical animation videos which give students the basic knowledge on which to build their careers, and to give more experienced practitioners the specific knowledge they need to progress in their chosen specialities.

And to discover just how the best of today’s 3D medical animations are created, visit, where the Get Animated! Medical team’s unique four-step development process creates the ideal script, soundtrack, design and animation sequences for any purpose, for any audience.


“Surgeon Simulator” review


Surgeons fail at “Surgeon Simulator”:


Links to Touch Surgery:


“Ophthalmic Operation Vienna”:


Mainstream consumer VR & AR is still a long way off:



Neurosurgeons using Oculus Rift


Microsoft HoloLens





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