Newswise – WINSTON-SALEM, NC – July 28, 2022 – Neuroradiologists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have begun a pilot study testing the use of virtual reality (VR) systems to read MRIs and other medical images remotely.
Jonathan Burdette, MD, a professor of radiology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, regularly travels to Ecuador to help doctors read radiology studies because there are few neuroradiologists trained in subspecialty in the South American country.
Many radiologists in the US and Canada volunteer their time to help colleagues in developing countries, but these consultations are often not ideal due to technological limitations.
Through this pilot study, Burdette and his team, including Christopher Whitlow, MD, Ph.D., chair of radiology, and Josh Tan, diagnostic radiology systems administrator at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, explore how VR technology can help better serve patients in Ecuador and abroad.
The hardware for the pilot study was provided by Lenovo and the software was provided by Luxsonic Technologies, designed from the ground up to provide radiologists with a safe, inexpensive and convenient way to connect with their colleagues.
“The great thing about this is that it’s a collaborative environment with people looking at medical images at the same time, no matter where they are in the world,” Burdette said. “We are able to interpret images in incredible detail while communicating with the referring clinicians seeing the same images in real time, which is simply not possible in a traditional hospital reading room.”
This collaboration was made possible through Burdette’s connections with Nelson Maldonado, MD, the founder of QRA Medical Specialty Clinic in Quito, Ecuador. In addition, Karol Cardenas, MD, who trained at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and recently began her neuroradiology fellowship at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, will help optimize the educational potential of the VR system with links between the neuroradiology section in Wake. Forest Baptist and her residency program in Ecuador.
Given the portability of the system, Burdette and team see many future possibilities for using this technology, such as remotely reading subspecialties of scans across the entire Atrium Health system or having a portable ultrasound unit on an ambulance. or helicopter where images can be viewed by multiple people. real-time in the hospital while the patient is on the move.
“The sky’s the limit,” Burdette said. “The educational, clinical and research opportunities in the VR environment are endless. We don’t know exactly what the future will bring, but this is certainly exciting and is just the tip of the iceberg of what we can potentially do.”
Using this technology in collaboration with Ecuador, while challenging, will set a blueprint for future collaborations around the world.
Burdette is convinced that “if we can do this in Ecuador, we can do this all over the world.”