In the Proof-of-concept phase, startups allocate significant resources to develop a capabilities demonstration. For startups focused on understanding 3D medical images, there are two primary approaches to consider.
The first approach involves building the graphical interface and algorithmic engine from the ground up, utilizing available packages for rendering, display, and algorithmic components. This route allows for a fresh and customized design of the user interface and user experience (UI/UX).
Alternatively, the PoC team may opt to commence with an existing software platform featuring a robust 3D visualization engine. The chosen platform should support the integration of incremental algorithms and additional features.
Practical approaches to medical imaging using 3D Slicer
Two prominent platforms meeting these criteria are Avizo and 3D Slicer. While Avizo is a licensed software with annual expenses and more extensive documentation, 3D Slicer is an open-source platform originally designed for medical image analysis and visualization, tailored specifically for research and clinical applications. Both platforms offer the capability to visualize intricate structures, facilitating enhanced comprehension and precision in healthcare.
They also support image fusion, allowing the combination of diverse imaging modalities like CT and MRI, and provide segmentation based on unsupervised or manual marking, as well as basic tracking.
An example of visualizing DICOM images in 3D Slicer. Source
These fundamental features and functionalities of 3D Slicer and Avizo are instrumental in advancing medical applications.
How surgeons can use 3D Slicer
An example of an interventional procedure that can be done with the help of 3D Slicer is breast cancer surgery. Surgeons segment tumors, tissues, and vessels, enabling precise incisions while preserving healthy tissue. During surgery, the pre-operative plan is overlaid for accurate navigation, minimizing errors, and improving patient outcomes.
On the left: An overview of the hardware components used for breast cancer surgery with 3D navigation. On the right: An image of breast cancer surgery happening with the help of 3D navigation. Source
3D slicing also innovates interventional procedures, enabling image-guided interventions with unmatched precision. Medical teams can navigate multifaceted anatomical structures with confidence, performing minimally invasive techniques while minimizing risks to healthy tissues. As a result, patients experience reduced discomfort, shorter recovery times, and improved treatment success rates.
Why Vision Elements is interested in 3D Slicer
Recently, we had the opportunity to explore the real-time capabilities of 3D Slicer and were thoroughly impressed. We developed a 3D Slicer extension that leverages the segmentation and tracking algorithms within the platform to create tailored algorithms that meet the specific needs of our customers. The result was an impressive real-time extension.
3D Slicer is a game-changer for modern medicine, revealing hidden intricacies and propelling precision care. Challenges aside, its transformative impact in diagnostics, treatments, and education reshapes healthcare for a brighter future. Its journey has just begun, and with each step forward, it promises to unlock new dimensions of knowledge and possibilities, reshaping the very essence of how we envision health and healing.