Visualization: Enhancing Plato’s Cave
The cutting-edge visualization system called Plato’s Cave provides views inside patients before surgeons ever lift a scalpel. Named for the famed philosopher’s allegory describing perceptions of reality, the system offers extraordinary 3-D views of the human body.
Surgeons at The Methodist Hospital, with or without the use of special glasses and a video game controller, navigate through images of the interior of patients’ bodies. The images are derived from CT, MRI or any DICOM scans, allowing for a virtual pre-surgical “fly through.” Plato’s Cave has earned acclaim from surgeons, clinicians and even patients and families desiring to better understand complex surgical options.
A team from Battelle will expand existing Plato’s Cave capabilities by developing new input tools, new display options and associated application software for advanced surgical visualization and planning. Goals include expanding the capabilities directly into the Operating Room and addressing how surgeons can best interact and use visualization data during surgery.
“We are tremendously excited for the opportunity to collaborate with such a prestigious organization as The Methodist Hospital,” said Bill Dunlevy, Vice President of Medical Devices & Diagnostics, which is part of Battelle’s Health and Life Sciences Global Business. “Their system already allows surgeons tremendous new insights into pre-surgical diagnostics and planning. Battelle’s integrated, multidisciplinary approach to medical device development, our renowned science and technology experts, and our best-in-class facilities will help The Methodist Hospital take it to the next level.”
Brian Butler, Chairman of Radiation Oncology, Senior Member of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute and founder of Plato’s Cave, said they sought out Battelle because it is well-known for having outstanding technical capabilities. “Battelle’s expertise will help us attain a higher level of technical focus, as well as significantly expand our system capabilities into new, cutting-edge areas. Advanced surgical planning and real-time access to 3-D visualization images greatly benefit clinical outcomes.”
Butler said the current technology enables him to combine data from CT, MRI and PET scans and channel them into a single environment to generate clear, comprehensive patient images. Now, they want to make these images even more useful to surgeons.
Plato’s Cave was designed and implemented by Paul E. Sovelius Jr., a scientific computing and visualization expert at The Methodist Hospital, in collaboration with a number of commercial partners.
“We have many exciting clinical opportunities ahead of us to leverage the full capabilities of Plato’s Cave, and I’m really looking forward to working with the Battelle team to help develop our next-generation ‘tool kit,’” Sovelius said. “Our vision is to continue to integrate new devices and technologies into Plato’s Cave to improve advanced surgical planning for the benefit o