MR images inaccurate. Nevertheless, in 200 surgeries with the device, complications, hospital stays, and surgical costs each declined at least 30 percent compared with conventional procedures.
Now, it's about to be transformed into a more-widely applicable device called CAMIS--Computer Assisted Minimally Invasive Surgery. Working with the Air Force's Wright Laboratory and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, CAMIS researchers hope to give the system the ability to redraw MR images during surgery using ultrasound data.
"We'd effectively have real-time MR imaging without the MR equipment," explains James Leonard, Air Force project leader for CAMIS. The team's hopes rest on defense technologies for "sensor fusion" developed for applications like updating moving-map displays with radar information collected in flight.
In addition, the team is working on a helmet-mounted 3-D display that would give surgeons a virtual-reality view of the patient before them. Voice-recognition circuitry also under development would allow rotation of views without touching controls. Such systems would avoid the problem of doctors looking away to a screen and then reorienting themselves to the work at hand.
Leonard concedes that they're not there yet. "Sensor fusion isn't a solved problem," he says, "and we're still developing the inverse mapping functions to update the MR image." Still, he expects the system to emerge in some form within five years.
The potential for improved minimally invasive surgery is enormous. By one Air Force estimate, the ability to see without incisions could save this country $10 billion in health-care costs from quicker recoveries alone.
Kit jumpstarts designs for new medical bus
Julie Anne Schofield, Associate Editor
Bohemia, NY --A newly approved standard for a "Medical Information Bus" (MIB) will let bedside devices and hospital computers from multiple vendors interoperate without custom software or hardware interfaces. To help speed design of MIB medical equipment, ILC Data Device Corp. has developed an IEEE 1073 Prototype Development Kit.
Approved late last year, IEEE standard 1073 defines a data communication interface between bedside medical devices and hospital patient-care computers. The standard is based on the ISO Open System Interconnect (OSI) 7-layer model. Thus, it will provide plug-and-play operation from the connectors and cabling to software.
Today, data transfer is possible only through RS-232C ports. These ports are not standard on medical devices--people use the pins in different ways. Bob Kennelly at DDC claims you can blow up a laptop computer simply by plugging an infusion pump into it.
IEEE 1073 defines an active star topology that involves two types of communications stations: a device communication controller (DCC) and a bedside communication controller (BCC). A DCC provides an embedded 1073 into a bedside medical device such as an infusion pump or cardiac monitor. An external converter box interfaces with existing equipment.
DDC's kit includes an IEEE 1073 BCC board for an IBM PC, RS-232C to 1073 DCC converter box, cable assembly, medical-rated power supply, and software for the BCC board and converter box. It sells for $4,500. DCC's MIB port chipsets debut this spring. For more information about the IEEE 1073 standard, phone (908) 562-3800.