VR gives 3D view to aid work of interventional radiologists

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Immersive virtual reality may enable interventional radiologists to aid treatments, enabling the use of three-dimensional images from inside blood vessels.

New research shows that interactive VR technology has the potential to provide faster, more efficient treatment, with benefits to patients, who would receive less radiation through the course of treatment.

The research, released at the 2019 annual scientific meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology, says clinicians would also benefit, thanks to the technology enabling greater precision, while promoting ease and confidence during procedures.

The study sought to demonstrate the feasibility of using a catheter with electromagnetic sensors projected onto a VR headset to see and steer a catheter through a patient’s anatomy to certain blood vessels.

Using a CT angiography scan, researchers created a 3D printed model and a holographic image of blood vessels in a patient's abdomen and pelvis. Researchers guided catheters through the 3D printed model while the tracking system showed the image from the catheter through the VR headset.

They compared the time taken to steer the catheter from the entry point of the femoral artery to three different targeted vessels vs. the time the process took using conventional fluoroscopic guidance, as well as time taken in similar real-life clinical angiographic procedures.

In 18 simulated procedures, researchers found the mean time to reach the three targeted vessels using VR was much lower than in fluoroscopy, the standard practice using an X-ray image. The VR software was developed through a University of Washington business incubator that supported development of Pyrus Medical.

"Virtual reality will change how we look at a patient's anatomy during treatment," says Wayne Monsky, MD, a professor of radiology at the University of Washington and lead author of the study. "This technology will allow physicians to travel inside a patient's body instead of relying solely on (two-dimensional) black-and-white images," adds Monsky, who also serves as the chief medical officer of Pyrus.

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