Researchers at the Department of Radiology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California are working on a new system using breast cancer images from a dedicated contrast-enhanced breast CT scan and Depth 3-Dimensional (D3D) Augmented Reality. With over 1000 cross-sectional images generated by the CT-scan (or MRI) it really becomes highly unlikely and time consuming for an expert and heck, even for an entire department, to analyze every single image for every patient with the precision that they deserve.
Technology keeps improving, faster than any one of us can keep up with, and that’s been a constant for several decades. Because of this, we need to develop smarter ways to analyze the massive amount of data available to us. Recently, an augmented reality system developed by D3D Enterprise, LLC located in Winter Park, FL successfully recreated stereoscopic 3D visualization on simulated data of breast microcalcifications, improving the assessment of their branching patterns. This data was translated to an augmented reality setting providing a separate image to each eye with head tracking, ability to rotate, translate, zoom and converge the eyes to a particular focal point, allowing to surf (using a joystick) around the 3D reconstruction of the images.
Breast CT data from one subject with known infiltrating ductal carcinoma was used in this study. Analyzing the mass’s shape, size and spiculations with the D3D system revealed that the spiculations were more evident when viewed with the AR system than on the native CT section and they were especially apparent when zoomed in and when actively rotating around the mass (a board-certified radiologist with 11 years of experience conducted the review).
Developing new technology when it comes to healthcare is not easy, especially given that the variables are different in every case. Obviously, extensive research is still required, but the results of this study are extremely promising. D3D Augmented Reality has the potential to be developed for countless medical applications, both diagnostic and therapeutical applications. And when you think about this software merged with platforms with a more instinctive and natural way of approaching images, like Microsoft’s HoloLens, you can see just a glimpse of the bright promise Augmented Reality holds for the future of medicine; reducing work time and mistakes for each case, allowing earlier and more precise diagnoses, and saving human lives. We certainly hope the biotech community and medical research institutes are paying attention!!