Maybe someday a doctor will be able to operate on your avatar and then transfer the changes to your body. For now that's not possible, but doctors are working with computer simulations of the human body.

Dr. Elmer Bernstam at Houston's UT Health Science Center says some of that research is already underway.

"At UT Houston we have a surgical skills lab that includes various kinds of simulation but I don't think it's quite to the level that we see in science fiction; for example the Star Trek Holodeck."

Dr. Bernstam says as computer power grows we’ll be able to do more and perhaps get closer to some medical holy grails.

"Try to design molecules to be used as therapeutics or as drugs that might fit into particular receptors, of which we have a model perhaps derived from x-ray crystallography or other molecular techniques; that's already happening."

Researchers in Britain say virtual surgery is the future of medicine. But there are ethical questions; if your avatar tells when you're going to die, do you want to know?