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Although many X-ray technicians, doctors and patients are familiar with X-ray technology, it appears the times are changing to the benefit and safety of patients and hospital or clinic staff. With the use of 3D video imaging (often called stereoscopy) radiation exposure is reduced, MRI imaging time is shortened surgeons are conducting their work in a real-time virtual environment. Other doctors are using 3D technology as teaching tools. Learn more from this list of 10 ways that 3-D video and technology is revolutionizing medicine.
- Lowering Radiation Exposure: A new technique for processing X-rays appears to lower the radiation patients are exposed to during cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans by a factor of 10 or more. Lead author Xun Jia, a University of California, San Diego postdoctoral fellow, based his team’s work on recent advances in compressed sensing by developing a CT reconstruction algorithm for graphics processing unit platforms (GPU cards being used for 3D computer graphics, often in video games), thereby increasing computational efficiency to reconstruct a cone beam CT scan in just minutes.
- Increasing Speed of MRI Imaging: This new research involves trying to significantly increase the speed of MRI imaging using a concept called “spatio-temporal sparsity,” which traces its origins to video compression and streaming Web movies. By using it on medical MRI images, a team from Stanford University managed to triple their image acquisition speed — fast enough to acquire 2D and 3D images of lung tumors in real time as they move with a patient’s every breath.
- Visualizing Blood Vessel Growth in Tumors: Using nanotechnology, material science, and the clinical imaging modality MRI, researchers have created a nanosized probe capable of noninvasively visualizing and quantifying the blood vessel growth in tumors in a preclinical model created by Chase Kessinger, working together with Jinming Gao and colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Together, the research team relied on nanotechnology and established superparamagnetic micellar nanoprobes (50-70 nm in diameter) with greatly improved MRI sensitivity over conventional small molecular agents.
- Providing Surgeons with “Cutting Edge”: A surgeon conducts an operation captured by a 3D camera hooked up to a microscope used in surgery. A video of the procedure will be used for years to come to train University of Michigan neurosurgery students. The TrueVision system, which U-M bought in December for $100,000, has federal approval to sell the system as a visualization tool for surgery. About 50 sites, mostly teaching hospitals, now use it for ophthalmology, spine and brain operations — procedures that require very precise surgical moves.
- Patients Can View Surgeries in Advance: North Texas Plastic Surgery helps educate patients through 3D animations of all the procedures that Dr. Sacha Obaid performs. While the information presented on the website may be overwhelming at times, it will raise the awareness and confidence in patients undergoing plastic surgery. Patients will then be able to ask informed and important questions and make the best decisions for them.
- Teaching Tools: Netter Products, which are based on medicine’s most well known and comprehensive collection of hand-painted anatomy illustrations by Frank Netter, M.D., have evolved into sophisticated digital tools that aid students and clinicians in learning and reviewing concepts in basic sciences and clinical medicine. Netter’s 3D Interactive Anatomy, powered by Cyber-Anatomy, brings the human body to life like never before, and gives students and clinicians a real-time interactive model of human anatomy using advanced gaming technology.
- 3D Obstetrics: A few months ago, Siemens demonstrated their ‘syngo.fourSight’ product at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in San Francisco. While conventional 3D ultrasound technologies use two-dimensional monitors for the evaluation of 3D images, syngo.fourSight Workplace uses 3D Vision technology with a high-end professional graphics solutions to offer a 3D viewing experience in “real 3D.” This alternative, now available, provides additional information to the physician and assists in communication with surgeons and patients. This quality improvement may also improve paternal-fetal bonding, and aid in treatment or pre and postnatal surgical planning.
- 3D Body Imaging: A scientific first can be claimed by Yale University engineers, who have for the first time created 3D models of whole intact mouse organs. With traditional microscopy, researchers can only image tissues up to depths on the order of 300 microns, or about three times the thickness of a human hair. To achieve even that, tissue samples must be cut into thin slices, stained with dyes to highlight different structures and cell types, individually imaged, then stacked back together to create 3D models. The new Yale method, on the other hand, avoids any kind of slicing or staining of organs.
- Brain Images that Matter: Dr. Daniel G. Amen’s brain scans are single photon emission computed tomography, a nuclear medicine tomographic imaging technique that provides 3D information. Amen can tell by looking at a scan which areas of a brain are affected, and he can suggest treatments that often change the patient’s life. Dr. Amen explained one case of a married couple, beside themselves because of the husband’s increasing argumentative and aggressive behavior. A scan revealed brain damage, and Amen learned the husband finished furniture for a living. “He was inhaling organic solvents, and that was causing behavioral problems,” he said.
- Game Plan for Pain Reduction: Virtual reality games are showing promise as a tool to combat pain. A research project is studying the analgesic effects of virtual reality environments and how they impact the way patients’ brains respond to pain. In one pilot study involving 100 children having blood drawn, those immersed in a virtual 3D environment felt less pain than those who watched a cartoon or who played video games on a flat screen. There was less distress for the technician and the parent as well.