3D medical holograph shows early wins

For cardiac patients, the technology may soon be a widespread reality
By Erin McCann
10:52 AM
Docs were able to manipulate the projected 3D heart by touching the holograph.

Three-dimensional holographic medical imaging may not be as far away in the future as one might think, one recently concluded hospital pilot study has confirmed. 

For certain structural heart disease procedures, the 3D holographic visualization technology has shown considerable promise, according to the results of a pilot conducted at Israel-based Schneider Children’s Medical Center in collaboration with Royal Philips and RealView Imaging.  

The pilot included eight patients who required minimally invasive structural heart procedures, and according to officials, doctors on the interventional team were able to view detailed, dynamic 3D holographic images of the heart essentially "floating in free space" during these specific procedures, without using special eyewear.  

The doctors were also able to manipulate the projected 3D heart structures by touching the holographic volumes in front of them. Officials say the study results demonstrate the potential of the technology to enhance the context and guidance of structural heart repairs.

"The holographic projections enabled me to intuitively understand and interrogate the 3D spatial anatomy of the patient’s heart, as well as to navigate and appreciate the device-tissue interaction during the procedure," said Einat Birk, MD, pediatric cardiologist and director of the Institute of Pediatric Cardiology at Schneider Children’s Medical Center, in a news release. 

Progress in image-guided therapies for heart diseases -- from the opening of obstructed coronary arteries to catheter ablation therapy for heart arrhythmias and catheter-based structural heart repairs such as heart valve replacements -- have greatly increased the need for live 3D image guidance, to supplement today’s live 2D image abilities, officials say. Live X-ray and live 3D cardiac ultrasound imaging are typically used together to guide these minimally invasive structural heart procedures, with the ultrasound images providing detailed insights into the heart’s soft tissue anatomy, and the X-ray imaging providing visualization of catheters and heart implants.

"The ability to reach into the image and apply markings on the soft tissue anatomy in the X-ray and 3D ultrasound images would be extremely useful for guidance of these complex procedures," added Elchanan Bruckheimer, pediatric cardiologist and director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at Schneider Children’s Medical Center, in a statement. 

The results of this unique pilot study will be presented by Bruckheimer this week at the 25th annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics scientific symposium.