VR Gives 3D Depiction Inside Blood Vessels

UW Medicine interventional radiologist Wayne Monsky first saw virtual reality’s vivid, 3D depiction of the inside of a phantom patient’s blood vessels, his jaw dropped in childlike wonder.

A virtual-reality depiction of a catheter navigating blood vessel. With a VR headset, this would be 3D (click on the image to enjoy video)

When you put the (VR) headset on … you have a giddy laugh that you can’t control – just sheer happiness and enthusiasm. (I’m) moving up to the mesenteric artery and I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” he recalled.

The experience reminds him of “Fantastic Voyage,” the ’60s-era sci-fi film about a submarine and crew that are miniaturized and injected into a scientist’s body to repair a blood clot.

As a child, and today, I’ve been amazed at the premise that one day you can swim around inside someone’s body. And really, that’s the sensation: You’re in it,” he said. Interventional radiologists use catheters, thin flexible tubes that are inserted into arteries and veins and steered to any organ in the body, guided by X-ray visuals. With this approach, they (and cardiologists, vascular surgeons, and neuro-interventionalists) treat an array of conditions: liver tumors, narrowed and bleeding arteries, uterine fibroids, and more.

Monsky and two collaborators have pioneered VR technology that puts the operator inside 3D blood vessels. By following an anatomically correct, dynamic, 3D map of a phantom patient’s vessels, Monsky navigates the catheter through junctions and angles. The catheter‘s tip is equipped with sensors that visually represent its exact location to the VR headset. It’s a sizable leap forward from the 2D, black-and-white X-ray perspective that has guided Monsky’s catheters through vessels for most of his career.

He recently presented study findings that underscore VR’s value: In tests of a phantom patient, VR guidance got him to the destination faster – about 40 seconds faster, on average, over 18 simulations – than was the case with X-ray guidance.

Source: https://newsroom.uw.edu/