US engineers have designed a tool that converts the flat images of medical scans into 3D images that are easy to see, manipulate and understand.
Two-dimensional imaging technologies have been used in medicine for a long time. But the flat images are not easily read or understood by anyone except specialists.
Mechanical engineering professors Eliot Winer and James Oliver from Iowa State University and Thom Lobe, a paediatric surgeon based at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, have changed that. They have designed a tool that converts the flat images of medical scans into 3D images that are easy to see, manipulate and understand.
A 2007 grant of $109,533 from the Grow Iowa Values Fund, a US state economic development programme, helped the three to turn the technology into a commercial software product. The result is now being marketed by BodyViz.com, a startup company based at Iowa State’s CyberInnovation Institute.
The company recently won the $25,000 (£15,072) top prize in the fourth annual John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan Competition. Earlier this year, the company was named Outstanding Startup Company of the Year as part of the Technology Association of Iowa’s Prometheus Awards.
The company and its 13 employees have also been busy earning the required approvals from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), developing a website and beginning to make sales, said Curt Carlson, the company’s president and chief executive officer.
Winer said: ‘3D visualisation is used all the time. But for the medical field it’s a paradigm shift. Once doctors understand the basics of our software, they don’t understand how they lived without it.’