Mar 5, 2018 | By Benedict

GE Healthcare has identified 3D printing and immersive VR “video games” as some of the technological advancements that are changing modern healthcare. Doctors can now use VR headsets like the Oculus Rift to get “inside” a patient’s body parts.

VR 'video games' could help doctors treat patients

GE Healthcare, the Chicago-headquartered medical subsidiary of General Electric, knows a thing or two about modern technologies in healthcare. We’ve already seen many of its own healthcare 3D printing efforts, but GE Healthcare has now turned its gaze outward as it identifies five new technologies that are changing healthcare around the world.

Excitingly, three of these five technologies involve additive manufacturing, while another makes a radical new use of virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift.

First let's look at 3D printing. GE Healthcare has high hopes for additive manufacturing technology—as it should: General Electric also operates GE Additive, an entire 3D printing business division devoted to developing new 3D printing technologies.

3D printing labs are transforming medicine

Within the healthcare sector, GE says 3D printing holds huge promise for applications like 3D printed fetuses for blind parents and the establishment of on-site medical 3D printing labs.

Another exciting use of 3D printing in healthcare involves developing chromatography columns, which can be used to develop biopharmaceuticals—drugs used to treat diseases including cancer and immune diseases.

A 3D printed fetus model shows blind parents-to-be their unborn child

But perhaps the most unusual new technology identified by GE Healthcare is one that concerns another kind of 3D creation. Not 3D printing, but immersive VR environments created to assist surgeons.

When GE Healthcare designer Ludovic Avot and medical imaging engineer Yannick Le Berre were playing the popular video game Fallout 4, they were struck with an idea: why not create a video game-style environment, one as detailed as Fallout, that would allow doctors to get up close and personal with a patient’s body? Better still, why not make it in VR?

“We were inspired by the photorealistic rendering techniques of the high-quality games,” Avot says. “We tried to exploit the great graphic and interactive potential of the most modern game technologies to show in detail the images obtained by medical tests.”

With their VR tool, which was presented at the Journées Francophones de Radiologie conference in Paris last year, doctors can use a VR headset like the Oculus Rift to step inside a patient’s body, getting them up close and personal with injuries, polyps, tumors, and lesions.

“This tool can be a new way for radiologists to observe complex clinical images,” says Avot. “It allows them to manipulate and interact with images and offers more extensive zoom, which may prove useful in specific cases, such as the study of the heart of children. The shadowing and the lightning greatly helps to understand the shapes of anatomical structures.”

We bet the developers of Fallout never expected their creation to have such a profound effect on modern life.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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