Taking medical scan technology to new dimensions

Healthcare Technology
Blog
Monday June 17, 2019 · PointClear Solutions

3 MIN. READ

Medical imaging has moved far beyond the days when basic mammography devices and CT scanners were viewed as modern miracles. Today, imaging technology not only provides living color, it can be both 3D and 4D.
Healthcare professionals now have access to better resolutions, a vast array of angles, and incredibly detailed imagery that offers 360-degree insight into the body. 3D medical scans render crisper pictures of bones and blood vessels and can even map ear canals. 4D goes beyond to allow doctors to “live stream” video of the images created by a 3D ultrasound. Both help doctors detect and diagnose conditions earlier and more accurately, enhancing care and recovery.

The evolution of medical imaging

Medical imaging is a function of data collection and processing. Enhanced, more useful images require capturing more data and processing it faster. With advancements in scanner technology, devices can collect and create data sets and produce clearer high-res 3D images with minimal noise.

One measure of imaging progress is “slice count.” A slice is a computer-generated cross-sectional image of the body. With devices such as X-rays, MRIs and ultrasound, radiologists can take images with thousands of slices in a single study. The old limit was 16, and an increased count results in a more precise representation of the 3D model of the anatomy


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The impact of 3D visualization

The increased computing power, speed and 3D imaging/visualization capabilities available to radiologists and organizations have resulted in significant developments in medical imaging, including:

Tomosynthesis

The evolution of imaging from traditional 2D mammography to 3D mammography (tomosynthesis) has allowed radiologists to capture tissues at varying depths and angles. This has helped improve breast cancer detection and care, especially for high-risk patients and those with dense tissue.

Cinematic rendering

Cinematic rendering developed by radiologist Elliot Fishman helps doctors study more-complex body areas, such as the heart. Fishman describes it as “3D on steroids.” It produces photorealistic images by merging 3D MRI scans or 3D CT with volumetric visualization and other computer-generated imagery (CGI) technology. The result is a better depiction of the anatomy texture, enabling doctors to make more-accurate determinations such as whether a tumor is cancerous.

While cinematic rendering requires CGI to simulate a 3D movie, a 4D ultrasound depicts only real-life images through live-streaming video of the fetal heart wall and valves in motion, and blood flow through vessels.

Microscanning

Efforts are underway to use 3D-computed tomography angiography (CTA) to visualize venous and arterial vessels. Although CT scans and MRIs are basically 2D images, microscanning can help manipulate and transform them into 3D. Since CTA scans come with hundreds of cross-sectional images, microscanning can help technologists summarize a much smaller set of images for a case. With that, radiologists can focus more on their clinical work and research to enhance care.

3D visualizations of hearing deficits

Ear care

Since hearing loss is the third most common physical condition, after heart disease and arthritis, people of all ages benefit from hearing aids. With the adoption of deep-canal, discreet hearing aids, there is an increased need for safely mapping a patient’s ear canal. Microscanning is particularly effective in ear-scanning applications, such as taking better impressions of ear molds.

Until recently, rendering exact replicas was largely an often-unreliable manual process.  Inconsistences often led to multiple doctor visits and fittings, discomfort, and the use of additional resources, costs, and time.

Revolutionizing ear care with technology

With approximately 48 million Americans reporting some degree of hearing loss, an innovative technology that provides customized hearing care can make a big impact on patient care and satisfaction. A hand-held video scanner device can safely take 3D images of the ear canal and map the interior of the liquid-filled conforming membrane within, eliminating many of the risks and inefficiencies of the manual process.

The development of an intra-aural 3D scanning device coupled with a comprehensive platform streamlines the production of custom hearing aids and earmolds, ensuring a better fit for enhanced hearing.

The need for a scan-management platform

Harnessing the capabilities of modern technology, innovative companies are delivering ground-breaking devices to healthcare organizations and patients. To learn more about strategy, design, and development services to enhance your healthcare technology, contact us.

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