Stereoscopic virtual reality does not improve knowledge acquisition of congenital heart disease

Neil Patel, Anthony Costa, Stephen P. Sanders, David Ezon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Advances in virtual reality have made it possible for clinicians and trainees to interact with 3D renderings of hearts with congenital heart disease in 3D stereoscopic vision. No study to date has assessed whether this technology improved instruction compared to standard 2D interfaces. The purpose of this study was to assess whether stereoscopic virtual reality improves congenital heart disease anatomy education. Subjects in a prospective, blinded, randomized trial completed a pre-test assessing factual and visuospatial knowledge of common atrioventricular canal and were randomized to an intervention or control group based on their score. The intervention group used a 3D virtual reality (VR) headset to visualize a lecture with 3D heart models while the control group used a desktop (DT) computer interface with the same models. Subjects took a post-test and provided subjective feedback. 51 subjects were enrolled, 24 in the VR group & 27 in the DT group. The median score difference for VR subjects was 12 (IQR 9–13.3), compared to 10 (IQR 7.5–12) in the DT group. No difference in score improvement was found (p = 0.11). VR subjects’ impression of the ease of use of their interface was higher than DT subjects (median 8 vs 7, respectively, p = 0.01). VR subjects’ impression of their understanding of the subject matter was higher than desktop subjects (median 7 vs 5, respectively, p = 0.01). There was no statistically significant difference in the knowledge acquisition observed between the stereoscopic virtual reality group and the monoscopic desktop-based group. Participants in virtual reality reported a better learning experience and self-assessment suggesting virtual reality may increase learner engagement in understanding congenital heart disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2283-2290
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • 3D imaging
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Education
  • Virtual reality


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