Bringing Virtual Anatomy to the Operating Room

Samantha Olson, Newsweek

Medicine has come a long way from its “let’s-just-open-it-up-and-take-a-look” past. Today, radiology provides doctors with a look into the body without the need for a single incision. Technologies like computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have opened windows into vital organs, musculature and even the brain. But CT and MRI scans have limitations—they’re 2-D images of body parts uploaded onto a computer, very different from real-life, 3-D organs.

“Doctors are trying to extract 3-D information from flat slices,” says Sergio Aguirre, the founder and chief technology officer of EchoPixel, a tech company trying to solve the flat-screen problem. “We found they are looking at flat image slices, and correlating between images, and in the process, forgetting what they are looking at.” He says that in their research, they found that doctors are trained to move from one 2-D image to the next, memorizing the orientation of each image as they go. But, he says, “they may forget a key feature that will lead them to lose important diagnostic information. It is a small mental lapse that’s happening from data overload.”