Virtual Surgery Coming Soon?
3D models of patients' bodies would let surgeons practice first
By Laila Weir,  Newser User
Posted Dec 8, 2007 6:39 AM CST
In this undated computed axial tomography (CT scan) image provided on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007 by the Sparsh Hospital, Indian girl Lakshmi is seen before she underwent a 24-hour operation on her, in Bangalore,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Within five years, surgeons may be able to create 3D virtual models of patients' bodies in order to practice surgeries ahead of time. While current virtual surgery lags far behind the realism of, say, combat video games, a UCLA assistant math professor believes this could change soon, reports Scientific American. High costs could delay adoption in hospitals, however.

So far, virtual surgery has mostly been limited to before and after images for reconstructive surgery and to simulating specific body parts. Doctors use MRIs or CT scans to create images of patients' bodies, but the scanners currently provide inadequate information for creating truly accurate models. The UCLA professor says faster computers with better algorithms will be able to solve this problem.