"Hold still, I can feel your liver!" New Technology Allows Radiologists to Feel Organs

Author:  Falishia Sloan

Institution:  Eastern Virginia Medical School
Date:  February 2008

New technology by Erink Vidholm of Uppsala University could lead to more effective cancer treatment by allowing radiologists to virtually feel organs. This technology, which comes in the form of a special pen, will allow for an easier diagnosis and treatment plan development for diseases such as cancer. The magic behind this technology, called "haptics," lies in a special pen, called "haptic pen" that acts as a sort of three-dimensional mouse that allows the user to feel virtual organs. Computerized image analysis is used to determine the size of and even construct three-dimensional models of the organs prior to radiation or surgery.

While a useful tool, this portion of technology can be a bit insufficient on its own, as humans regularly vary on the overall orientation of their "guts," or insides. These differences that exist from person to person tax the computer's ability to automatically accurately access crucially relevant information in every case, leaving physicians to mark the important parts of a given image themselves and then let the computer work from there.

In combination with the new technology using the haptic pen, however, this technology could prove extremely useful and more accurate to radiologists in their diagnosis of disease such as cancer. Organ images are adapted from computer models, and can then be used to measure the volume or calculate the shape/migration variations of the organ. This adaptation is accomplished using the computer image analysis and haptics.

"To get a greater sense of depth in the image we use stereo graphics," Vidholm, at the Center for Image Analysis at Uppsala University, explained. "When the models are to be adapted to the images, this is done partly automatically on the basis of the content of the image and partly with the input of the user wielding the haptic pen."

Written by Falishia Sloan

Reviewed by Neil Majithia

Published by Pooja Ghatalia.