enterprise image exchange
November 17, 2017

Virtual Gets Real in Medical Imaging

From film to 3D VR: RSNA then and now 

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been attending the annual Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) conference for over 20 years now. In 1996, positron emission tomography (PET) and the multi-slice computed tomography (CT) scans were new, cutting edge technologies. The industry was just starting to talk about radiology information systems (RIS) and picture archive and communication systems (PACS). And there was no such thing as image exchange, as most imaging was still captured on film.

Flash forward to today. We’ve gone from film to digital imaging and are now on the forefront of globalizing image exchange. And with the focus of the conference on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, it really shows how far the industry has come.

In addition to AI and machine learning, another big transformation in the industry has been how clinicians actually look at images and imaging data. For decades, medical professionals have been trained using two dimensional (2D) images. Then training took the leap to three dimensional (3D) images for computerized tomography in CT, PET and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Now they have the ability to view 3D images in high definition with virtual reality (VR) technology, providing a more in-depth visualization of the anatomy.  From a technology standpoint, this is more than a cool gadget. The ability to view images in 3D VR has revolutionized not only how clinicians can view these images, but how they treat and manage patients.

This year in the lifeIMAGE booth we will actually be giving demonstrations on how clinicians can use virtual reality to view 3D images for pre-op planning, patient education and additional education and training. Through a relationship with the University of Basel’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, who developed a virtual reality system called SpectoVive, we will be able to show this using real clinical data. The technology uses computed tomography data to generate a three-dimensional image in real time in a virtual environment.

This is an example of a clinical tool that can “plug in” to our network with ease to leverage the images for use in VR systems so that clinicians can view the anatomy from different angles to prepare for complicated medical procedures.

The founder of SpectroVive, Professor Philippe Cattin, will also be giving demonstrations at select times in our booth during the conference. He will be walking participants through a deeper dive of the functionalities of the VR system using real-life clinical scenarios like treating a patient with a ruptured aneurysm.

Radiology has a long history of being at the forefront of innovation. This year’s conference focuses on the promising new technologies of the future. In 20 years, we’ve gone from talking about film to showcasing AI and 3D VR. These transformational technologies have the ability to enhance clinical confidence to improve patient outcomes.


Richie Pfeiffer, Vice President Product and Market Development

Richie Pfeiffer

Vice President of Product and Market Development