We have previously covered the use of virtual reality to help both physicians better visualize complex imaging studies and plan surgeries. Now, GE Healthcare is developing a system that takes traditional imaging data and turns it into a VR representation for possibly better viewing. Presented at the recent European Congress of Radiology, designers revealed a VR radiographic suite. It takes data from CT, MRI scans, then combines it with video game graphic rendering technology to produce a detailed, 3D model that may be viewed in VR (HTC Vive and Oculus Rift VR). Images reportedly can be manipulated through the use of VR controllers in virtual 3D space. It’s currently in prototype phase and is undergoing clinical testing in France.
Additionally presented were modifications to GE’s Workstation (diagnostic imaging suite) to allow it to print CT, MRI, PET and other clinical images on a 3D printer. This isn’t the first time radiographic data has been exported to a 3D printer, but it reflects the ongoing trend of finding unique ways to visualize traditionally 2D data, be it printed or in VR.
Both of the visualization and printing tools could have some interesting applications. For example, we’ve covered a number of small projects using VR for surgical planning in complex cases. There are also some interesting educational applications, particularly when it comes to teaching anatomy.
Whatever use these tools do ultimately find, one thing this news suggests is that VR and 3D printing are moving towards entering more mainstream clinical practice.