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Today, radiologists look through hundreds and hundreds of flat images, and then draw a diagram (yes, by hand) to show the surgeon how to approach a given procedure. Then the surgeon operates on the patient with no advance knowledge of his or her actual volumetric anatomy.
One surgeon I spoke with summed it up perfectly: “I’ve never opened up a patient and seen a 2D view!” Another surgeon specializing in image-guided surgery told us that “half the time I am guessing” when navigating 3D anatomy using 2D images.
Sounds a little scary, no? Never fear. It won’t be like this much longer.
There’s a pretty powerful solution just now arriving—advanced image rendering through interactive virtual reality. EchoPixel (my company) uses virtual reality to help doctors visualize each patient’s unique anatomy and internal structure in a floating 3D image. The software uses DICOM data, which is already embedded in every MRI scan, CT scan, or ultrasound image.
We see a huge opportunity for this sort of imaging technology to shape the way doctors work.
For example, the virtual colonoscopy procedure is becoming a popular alternative to the dreaded optical colonoscopy (recommended as a regular procedure for every person over age 50). Instead of requiring total sedation and a full day of recovery, the virtual procedure allows the doctor to examine a CT scan of the colon to identify any potentially cancerous lesions.