News Center

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

3-D Lab gives realistic outside-looking-in view of human health

INDIANAPOLIS – Imagine a virtual journey into the depths of the human body and capturing images that can be used to help clinicians identify and treat hard-to-identify illnesses and conditions.

That’s a journey many physicians are taking to help their patients, navigating their way by the sophisticated technology found in the 3-D Lab at St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers. The lab – one of the few in Indiana – was created to harness the surge in technology-related computed axial tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Administered by St. Francis’ Radiology Department at its south side Indianapolis campus, the 3-D Lab is being used in a variety of ways to diagnose conditions such as blood clots, aneurysms and to assist vascular surgeons to place devices such as stents.

The technology also helps physicians probe skeletal and musculoskeletal trauma and anomalies, and helps them plan surgeries.

Through the St. Francis network, the 3-D Lab receives data from cross-sectional CT and MRI studies. Computers in the lab then produce realistic views of body systems physicians use to visualize their patients’ anatomies more comprehensively and accurately. These images can be viewed at St. Francis campuses at Indianapolis, Beech Grove and Mooresville.

“Often hundreds or even thousands of CT scan images can be summarized into a smaller number of three-dimensional images with the aide of specialized workstations.” said interventional radiologist Raj Gupta, M.D. Gupta works frequently with 3-D images to help specialists, such as vascular surgeons, with planning their procedures.

But it’s not only specialists who are taking advantage of the 3-D Lab. Primary care physicians at St. Francis are increasingly using the technology to view arteries and possible pulmonary embolisms in their patients.

“Optimal 3D post processing is very reliant on the quality of CT and MRI images produced at the scanner,” said 3-D Lab Technical Coordinator Louis Rankin. “The 3D Lab has nearly developed into a separate department here in Radiology, but we still focus on putting through quality CT and MRI imaging”.

Currently, the 3-D Lab is operational around-the-clock and on-call staff members maintain virtual work stations at home.