Hollywood visualisation software generates 3D images of animated beating heart

New York 25 August 2002New York University Medical Center's Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Stephen Colvin, MD, and Eugene Grossi, MD, Director of the Cardiac Surgical Research Laboratory introduced a major advance in medical animation technology with the creation of a three-dimensional, animated beating heart. Developed in collaboration with CyberFiber Inc., the animated heart was presented recently at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Western Thoracic Surgical Association in Big Sky, Montana, to approximately 400 of the world's top cardiac surgeons.

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"We are on the cutting-edge of combining Hollywood animation software with hard scientific methodology", stated Aaron Oliker, CyberFiber's CEO and chief animator. Mr. Oliker and Dr. Joseph Dayan, President of CyberFiber, expanded and programmed the Alias|Wavefront Maya 3D graphics software to model and animate the dynamic digital heart. Maya has been used in the making of such blockbuster films as Lord of the Rings and Spiderman.

The development of the three-dimensional animated heart took one and a half years to complete, using multiple ovine data sets from a Stanford University study applied to a digital human heart, creating the most detailed and precise beating heart to date.

Dr. Grossi commented: "I am extremely optimistic about the future of this advanced medical animation technology with respect to cardiac surgery. Medical animation software integrated into state-of-the-art robotic systems will create a new modality in visualisation, so that a surgeon-in-training will be able to practise a simulated surgery through the use of virtual reality. This is a major breakthrough in medical animation."

Recognised internationally as leaders in cutting-edge surgical technology with Drs. Grossi and Colvin performing the first robotic-assisted valve repair surgery in 2000 and implementing HDTV into the operating room, the cardiac surgical research team in tandem with CyberFiber has now established a new standard in surgical technology with the development of the computer-animated heart.

Dr. Colvin explained: "Medical animation software is going to provide an in-depth tool for physicians to be able to take high volume, high resolution data sets, and put them into models that can be explored visually helping us understand what is going on in a particular patient."


Leslie Versweyveld

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