Duke Physician’s Nintendo Inspired 3D Body Scanning Device Could Replace the MRI


One question had been bothering Joshua Broder, an ER physician at Duke University. On why his son’s handheld Nintendo Wii is better at detecting movements than the professional ultrasound machine at his work.

He got the idea that: Why not tape this controller onto an ultrasound machine to better understand the angles at which scans were taken? The typical ultra sound technology only enables doctors to get a 2D visual of the slice of the organ and it is easier to make mistakes as there is hardly any visual context to them. 3D scans as the MRI and CT scans requires patients to move into designated scanning rooms, where it often take minutes and costs thousands of dollars to get a good picture.

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Therefore, ER doctors and engineers have now harnessed the motion-sensing technology in Nintendo Wii controllers to build a new kind of 3D body scanner. Through this, they can turn the 2D ultrasound machine into a 3D imaging system, and help patients avoid the cost and radiation of CT scans and give babies or other subjects an alternative to sitting still in an MRI machine.

The process of engineering the device according to hospital standards was a bit more complex than just putting on a duct tape to the Wii device and with the help of a team of engineers from Duke and Stanford Broder has managed to perfect the 3D printed attachment for handheld ultrasound machines.

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The image pops up on the computer screen within seconds and looks a bit like a 3D pop-up version of a black-and-white x-ray image. Doctors with this can now search through the images in slices that are mapped out on an X-Y-Z coordinate plane, scanning through different areas of the body inch by inch in 3D.

However, the device is not accurate as a MRI or CT scan but attaching the motion-sensing microchip to an ultrasound wand allows doctors to build a 3-D scan of the body in seconds. This can be done simply by gliding over the surface of the skin.

Clinical trial for the device are still underway and for the device to be available in the market it is yet to go through the lengthy FDA approval process, as Nintendo-inspired medical devices aren’t immune to federal regulation.

Source: Impact Lab