Technology can give you a clearer picture of your health

Do you ever find it challenging to understand what your doctor or surgeon is trying to explain to you?

If so, a visual can be extremely helpful, especially if it's your body in 3D.

Complex conditions and procedures described in multi-syllabic medical terminology can be difficult to decode, creating stress and confusion about your healthcare options.

"Our biggest challenge as surgeons, uh, is getting people to understand exactly what we are doing, uh, and not only what we are doing, but how difficult it can be," explains Dr. David Thiel, surgeon at the Mayo Clinic.

Virtual dissection tables, like this one at mayo clinic, could help bridge the communication gap between doctor and patient.

"We can take a thin slice CT scan of any patient we want and we can virtualize them in a matter of six to twelve minutes, and we can have them on the table,” says Conrad Dove, IT Technical Specialist at Multidisciplinary Simulation Center.

Here, doctors can show you, not just tell you, about a trouble spot on any layer of your body, down to the bone.

"Three dimension is so much more real to people,” added Dove. “If I show someone a picture of something on a sheet of paper or I show them a pop-up book, which one makes more sense? Even a child gets more out of a pop-up book."

Mayo Clinic surgeon Dr. Thiel agrees.

"This type of model would allow you to see, hey, here is where the tumor is, here is where we need to cut, here is where we need to reconstruct and it kind of gives you an idea of what we are trying to do," he says.

Dr. Thiel also expects to use this technology to help his surgical team, including nurses and medical technicians, prepare for a complex procedure.

The technology is part of Mayo Clinic's new Simulation Center.

REPORT: MB# 3672

VIRTUAL DISSECTION TABLE: The new virtual dissection table takes advantage of 20th-century technological advancements in imaging, such as X-rays, ultrasound and MRIs, and combines them for use in a 7-foot by 2.5-foot screen. The table is being tested as a way to further enhance that age-old teaching method - the dissection of human cadavers.

The table is designed as a complement to other anatomical educational devices, with the added benefit of allowing users to easily explore hard-to-reach parts of the human body. Its creators refer to it as something of a reusable cadaver.

The images morph magically from soft tissue to hard tissue. The tissue can be sliced much like actual tissue on cadavers in the dissection lab next door, but no knife is needed - just a single slide of a finger will do. Then, with the press of a button, the entire body is restored instantly.

The touch screen allows users to investigate a realistic visualization of 3-D human anatomy and to delve inside the human body. CT scan images are augmented with 3-D modeling and annotation enabling physicians to give their patients visuals.


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Cynthia Nelson Weiss
Mayo Clinic Florida
904-953-0464 (direct)
904-953-7339 (asst)

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