Biomedical Visualization At UIC Used To Save Lives

CHICAGO (CBS) Biomedical visualization takes doctors into the 3-D world of the operating room. The software and images actually allow doctors to step inside the body of a patient, virtually touching veins, arteries and deadly tumors.

It takes more than prop experts to make bodies realistic on shows like CSI. It takes people with special bio imaging training, the kind you can only get at a handful of schools – one of which is here in Chicago. But, as CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, that kind of imaging is also being used to save lives.

The blueprint for saving lives in the operating room began for many between the covers of Gray’s Anatomy, and the medical illustrations on the pages within. But technology and iPads are changing everything.

“This could be in someone’s pocket or backpack, and shown at a patient’s bedside,” said Scott Barrows, as he enlarges and flips around anatomical images on his computer tablet.

More than a textbook, the images and software can illustrate 3-D information on an individual patient.

“The fact that all of this is accessible now and so easy to use, that’s what’s making it revolutionary,” said Barrows.

It’s all the work of biomedical illustrators, and UIC’s graduate program is one of only two places in the western hemisphere where students can train.

“We can still apply all the traditional art concepts that we’ve learned but do it at a scientific level,” said second-year student Leslie White.

Barrows, the program’s director, says students have to have the knowledge of a doctor, the talent of an artist and the ability of a computer scientist, which is hard to find.

Slip on a pair of glasses and the wonders of their innovations take doctors into the 3-D world of a virtual operating room.

The software and images actually allow doctors to step inside the body of a patient, virtually touching veins, arteries and deadly tumors.

“This is a perfect roadmap. If a surgeon is going to be operating, it gives them all of the options, what’s the best approach for this,” said Barrows.

It’s almost better than Avatar, and the Hollywood reference isn’t that much of a stretch.

Students and faculty have also worked to develop the bodies and graphics we see in productions like CSI. Only their prosthetic work in the real world will help cancer patients and burn victims.

“It’s a lot of sculpting and painting so it brings together all these specialties,” said Michaela Calhoun, a second-year student, as she displays a prosthetic nose she created.

“We are really in the age of visualization,” said Barrows.

It’s an age with the power to take doctors and patients on a real fantastic voyage.

Biomedical Visualization graduates from UIC have also worked on films like Shrek, and to create models of dinosaurs from fossil discoveries.

There are only 15 openings available each year in the two-year graduate program. It’s competitive, with 5 applicants for every spot.

Courtesy http://cbs2chicago.com/local/biomedical.visualization.uic.2.1648489.html