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What’s the use of 3-D virtual holography—aside, of course, from the fact that it’s so cool?

There may be a new answer to that question: guiding interventional procedures. The technology creates three-dimensional images that in some cases seem to float in space, without the need for monitors or special eyewear. It has been used mostly in education. But Royal Philips and RealView Imaging Ltd. announced last week that they had completed a study demonstrating the feasibility of using live 3-D holography to guide minimally invasive heart procedures.

The study involved eight patients and was conducted with the Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petach Tikva, Israel. Elchanan Bruckheimer, MBBS, director of the cardiac catheterization laboratories at the medical center and medical director of RealView Imaging, presented the study results at last week’s Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics scientific symposium in San Francisco.

A 3-D representation of the patient’s heart seems to appear in midair. Doctors can manipulate the image by “touching” it. Bert van Meurs, senior vice president at Philips Healthcare, described the experience:

It’s as if you have a real, life-size heart under your eyes. You can use an object like a stent and hold that into the hologram and see if it fits in the coronary artery to see if it’s the right size stent.

Van Meurs was quoted in a DOTmed News story. RealView has a demo video on its Web site.

Information needed to create the image comes from X-ray and ultrasound imaging. Asked about measurable clinical benefit, van Meurs said, “The benefit is in accuracy and measurement—having access to even more information.”

Don’t look for this technology in clinical use anytime soon. Van Meurs stressed to DOTmed News that the product was far from market-ready. He said further clinical studies are planned.

Related CME seminar (up to 20 AMA PRA Category 1 credits): UCSF Practical Body Imaging

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