The use of 3D holography is rapidly revolutionising the face of the medical industry in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few short years ago. This innovative technology has begun to fundamentally change modern medical approaches to imaging, diagnosis,and surgical procedures as well as instruction in the classroom. As these advances expand into ever more areas of medicine, the application of 3D holography will continue to deliver dramatic changes with ramifications that are certain to continue well into the future.
Currently, the majority of scanning devices are only capable of creating 2D images thatmust be manipulated with software in order to be rendered into a close approximation of 3D images. An on-going problem has been that the completed models are far from perfect and often exhibit significant gaps and flaws. Additionally, even the best models available are still viewed on monitors only capable of displaying flat 2D images. This requireshighly trained medical staff to have to imagine and visualise what the image would look like in 3D. Training is expensive and takes time to master, mistakes of human error can still be made and limited numbers of people have the desire and ability to excel in the process.
The introduction of 3D holography is an ideal solution to this dilemma as it allows a perfect 3D image to be projected into space and examined from any angle. The image has no gaps or flaws and can be rotated, flipped, zoomed, and manipulated in any manner that medical staff may require to better visualise problems and decide upon the most appropriate medical intervention.
Holograms in the Classroom
A highly fascinating use of holographic technology has been developed to teach anatomy to medical students and will also make the use of cadavers in the classroom redundant. Using a table top projecting device that displays a human sized 3D image, students are able to walk around and view the image from all angles and explore the various systems, i.e. skeletal, skin, digestiveand circulatory system with greater ease. A stunning 3D video projection mapping of the anatomy would actually offer a more realistic impression of living, functioning, body than is currently possible using cadaver.
Holographic Heart Surgery
Advances in holographic technology have allowed Israeli company Realview Imaging, in partnership with Philips Healthcare to prototype a 3D projector capable of taking data from current scanning technology such as CT Scanners, Ultrasound, and X-Ray machines and convert it into a life sized image that can be projected in glorious 3D. The inventors refer to the breakthrough as ‘printing with light’ and the image which seems to float in the air can be manipulated in real time.
The developers have focused on the technology’s potential to assist cardiac surgeons to visualise any anomalies or irregularities within the heart of the patient. Surgeons can also better prepare for complex procedures and take intricate, true to scalemeasurements for instruments or devices that need to be placed in or passed through the heart. It is anticipated that this 3D technology will revolutionise current cardio surgical practices and will allow surgeons to know with pinpoint accuracy exactly where damage is present and more precisely repair faulty valves, unblock arteries and to map out and rehearse surgical procedures. The implications for training and education are enormous.
With technology becoming increasingly more powerful and affordable, numerous companies are rising to the challenge of developing high tech solutions that will revolutionise standard procedures that occur on a daily basis in hospitals and clinics around the world. Many of the existing imaging devices are already capable of gathering 3D images and information; the stumbling block has always been finding affordable and effective methods to view the data by overcoming the limitations inherent in traditional forms such as 2D monitors and flat screens.
Every year the field of 3D holography advances by developing solutions like those that allow users to view and interact with 3D objects. And, with the convergence of imaging in the medical arena, the future for 3D looks very bright indeed.
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