Doctors and parents are getting a new perspective of babies in the womb thanks to VR.
For years, expecting parents have been making the most out of blurry ultrasound photos in anticipation of meeting their unborn child. Luckily with new research, that might all change with the ability to meet your baby in virtual reality.
Researchers in Brazil have found a way to examine a fetus in VR by transforming ultrasound and MRI data into 3-D models of the baby.
Sequentially-mounted MRI slices are used to construct accurate 3D models of the womb, umbilical cord, placenta and fetus that can then be examined in an Oculus Rift VR headset.
While wearing the VR headset, users are able to hear the baby’s heartbeat and can look at the fetus from different angles by moving their head.
Because the images are sharper than an ultrasound, physicians are able to use this technology to detect abnormalities in a fetus with higher accuracy and even get detailed views of the baby’s internal structure and respiratory tract.
“The 3-D fetal models combined with virtual reality immersive technologies may improve our understanding of fetal anatomical characteristics and can be used for educational purposes and as a method for parents to visualize their unborn baby,” said study co-author Heron Werner Jr., M.D., Ph.D., from the Clínica de Diagnóstico por Imagem, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Doctors will be able to use 3-D images to help parents follow the development of their unborn child and to provide further understanding about malformations when making treatment decisions.
Researchers are using this technology on patients at a clinic in Rio De Janeiro and have already used the technique to successfully detect an abnormality that required postnatal surgery.
Their full research will be shared at the Radiological Society of North America next week.
Research and image sources: Radiological Society of North America, November 21, 2016