In the early days of medical imaging radiologists were quite
satisfied using 2-dimensional (2D) visualization based on 2D data
acquisition of anatomical objects. As computed tomography (CT) and other
3-dimensional (3D) volume data sets were being acquired, we were still
limited to 2D visualization. There were early attempts at stereo viewing
as an approach to fully benefit from the volume information. However,
that technology never seemed to reach a threshold acceptance level and,
therefore, didn’t captivate the marketplace. So radiologists were still
left with an “incomplete” visualization schema.
Today, we have a
number of display technologies that are designated as “3D.” However, in
almost all cases the actual visualization technique is based on 2D
views. Some of these display formats provide for a “feel” of 3D and
therefore may be properly designated as “2.5D.” In addition, there are
technologies, such as holography, that do provide for a form of 3D
views. However, without the ability to interact with the object being
viewed, the visualization approach is still not complete.
applying all of the technologies described above, the goal is to utilize
advanced visualization techniques to optimize the knowledge gained by
the user. In the author’s opinion, knowledge is a combination of
cognition and intuition.
By combining stereo with virtual
holography, creating an interactive stereo display, it is possible for
doctors to visually work with parts of the body in open 3D space as if
they were real physical objects. With the addition of various approaches
to directly interacting with the object, it is believed that both
cognitive and intuitive skills will be improved due to the use of these
sensory cues. This will result in a meaningful increase in user
This approach has the potential to provide a paradigm
shift in the areas of diagnostics, surgical planning and treatment by
allowing doctors to focus all of their attention on solving clinical
problems without the need to struggle through the interpretation of 3D
anatomy using 2D views. The struggle, known as spatial cognition,
involves viewing 2D images and constructing a 3D recreation in your mind
– a cognitively intensive process. The risk is that clinically
significant information can be lost in the process.
predicted that, with the advent of many “3D” technologies becoming
available for consumer purposes, the medical field will be adopting new
approaches to increase knowledge, while requiring a shorter period of
time to reach a high level of expertise.
Let’s remember that the
key to success in all modalities has been based on the clinically
derived protocols. With the advent of stereo-interactive displays, a new
phase of protocol development awaits us.