Virtual reality (VR) surgical simulations are among the most difficult software applications to develop mainly because of the type of user interactions that they must support. Surgery typically includes precise cutting of often intricate structures. Modelling these structures and accurately simulating their response to user interaction requires many software components to effectively work in unison. Some of these components are readily available but are tailored to more common applications such as computer games or open-world simulations such as flight-simulators. This article explores the software libraries that are currently available to developers of VR surgical simulation software. Like computer games and other VR simulations, VR surgical simulations require real-time lighting and rendering systems and physics-based interactions. However, in addition they require haptic interaction with cut-able and deformable soft-tissue, a key requirement that is not supported by the majority of the available tools. In this article, we introduce currently available software development tools and the specific benefits and limitations that can be encountered when using them to develop VR surgical simulations. We also provide a detailed review of collision detection libraries that are central to achieving reliable haptic rendering.