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Victoria University of Manchester - Manchester Visualisation Centre and University Department of Surgery

The Manchester Visualization Centre (MVC) provides visualisation, computer graphics, multimedia and image processing services to the University of Manchester, and the UK academic community. Additionally MVC undertakes a diverse program of research and development funded both by industry and by a variety of agencies including the EU, and UK research Councils. MVC also hosts the International AVS Centre, a centre for independent user support funded by Advanced Visualization Systems Inc.

As well as its contribution to regional health care, the University Department of Surgery at Manchester's Royal Infirmary has pioneered many innovative surgical techniques. The Department's most recent achievement (in partnership with Virtual Presence Limited) was MISTVR - a system which evolved from an earlier research grant from the UK Department of Health and the Wolfson Foundation.

Specialized in:

  1. Manchester Visualisation Centre:
    visualisation, computer graphics, multimedia, image processing, telemedicine
  2. University Department of Surgery:
    virtual laparoscopy, tele-proctoring

The MVC is involved in research and development covering the areas of visualisation for medical diagnostic work, chemistry and the social sciences as well as more traditional areas such as image analysis, computer graphics and animation. MVC is also involved in a number of projects relating to the application of high-performance computing, and is building up its expertise in VR applications.

Through these activities and support on national service computer systems, the MVC has developed as a national centre of expertise for visualisation and high-performance computing and it deals with user queries far beyond Manchester, coming from all parts of the UK and abroad, from academia and industry. This provides the MVC with a large base of user contacts and with a wide range of experience in diverse application areas.

The University Department of Surgery has been active in the development and use of VR technology in surgery for many years. Together with industrial partners, they have jointly developed commercial products such as the MISTVR laparoscopic surgical trainer, and are currently working on an Interventional Cardiac Training (ICT) Simulator.

A new initiative is currently being planned to provide interactive interpretation of 3D scanned images (CT, MRI, Angiograms) in the operating theatre during Hepato-Pancreatic surgery. The images from the appropriate scanners and x-ray suites will be fast-ported to the Medical School and MVC to allow the necessary tissue discrimination and 3D reconstruction to occur. Supercomputing facilities will be used to transform the images into a format that could be run on a laptop. Finally, appropriate software will be developed to allow rapid-response interaction with the processed images that will run on the laptop in the operating theatre. The impact of this facility will be assessed in a series of patients undergoing tumour surgery of the liver, biliary tract and pancreas, with regard to decisions on operability and tumour clearance. There may also be other end-points such as correlation with intra-operative ultrasound findings, or even operating time and blood loss.

Products, projects and services

    Medical visualisation and telemedicine is one of MVC's key research and development areas.
    Existing projects include:
    • Web-based Surgical Education Tools (WebSET)
      The aim of WebSET is to provide cost-effective simulators for surgical procedures, and other medical education tools, that can be run on any workstation platform including a standard PC of average capacity. The World Wide Web provides the obvious infrastructure to achieve this, and we are concentrating on the use of VRML 97, and JAVA. A simulator for ventricular catheterisation, pedicle screw insertion, and lumbar puncture have already been completed:

    • Network Orientated Visualisation in a Clinical Environment (NOVICE)
      NOVICE is a three-year project funded under ESPRIT by the European Union and which began on the 1st January 1998. The project will provide extensible Web-based visualisation tools for medical applications that will work within a high performance-computing environment (HPCN). Access to the HPCN resources are provided through a simple user interface, which can be supported on affordable desktop, such that the need for high-end graphics workstations is removed. This will reduce costs dramatically and make high-quality medical image processing available without the large capital investment currently required. Emphasis will be on networked technologies, to enable both remote consultations with experts and easy re-examination by physicians.

    • VISUAL: A Visualization Applications Laboratory
      Through the VISUAL project, MVC provides specialist support in medical visualization. This includes consultation, software develpoment, training and reports.

    • CAMRAS: Computer Augmented MRA System
      The aims of this project are to develop and clinically test a computerised method for selecting the optimal aneurysm view and for assessing the shape, size and position of the aneurysm prior to the coiling procedure. The technique will be based on non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging combined with state-of-the-art image analysis and visualisation to enable the operator to step through the entire operating procedure and to take all essential measurements prior to the operation and without risk to the patient.

    • IERAPSI: an Integrated Environment for the Rehearsal and Practice of Surgical Interventions
      IERAPSI will provide a novel approach to computerised image-guided surgery planning. The project will provide an environment for visualising and interacting with the anatomy and pathology demonstrated by advanced imaging methods and VR techniques. At the same time, IERAPSI will allow rehearsal of procedures on an individual patient and the development of training systems based on individual patients' variations in anatomy and pathology. This is a pan-European project.

    The University Department of Surgery has participated to the MISTVR project.

Contact information:
Victoria University of Manchester
Manchester Visualisation Centre
Dr. Nigel W. John
University Department of Surgery
Dr. Rory F. McCloy
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL
United Kingdom
Tel.: +44-161-275-6096
Fax: +44-161-275-6800
E-mail Dr. John:
E-mail Dr. McCloy:
Web site:

Last update:
Manchester, Tuesday 5th October 1999