The holomer (HOLO-graphic M-edical E-lectronic R-epresentation) is a three dimensional holographic digital image of a specific person, derived from a CT scan, MRI, ultrasound or other modality. Physicians will be able to interact with the holomer as if it were the patients themselves. Soon, every patient will have their own unique holomer, containing not only anatomically precise information, but also physiologic, biologic, genetic, demographic and other information contained within the image. For diagnosis, all the relevant data about the patient can be retrieved in the form of a visual medical record. Individual virtual organs can be “flown through”, as is done with a virtual colonoscopy today. If a disease is found, the holomer becomes a patient specific educational tool, demonstrating to the patient exactly what their own problem is. In therapeutics, if a complex surgical procedure is required, the holomer can be used for pre-operative planning (as is already used for complex orthopedic, neuo- and craniofacial surgery), selecting the best surgical approach for that patient. Using surgical simulation, the surgeon can practice the procedure on the holomer, until a “perfect” operation is obtained. During surgery, the image can be used with “data fusion” to overlay the organ (called augmented virtual reality) with an image of the internal structures (blood vessels, bile ducts, etc.) for intraoperative stereotactic navigation. Comparing the preoperative image with the postoperative image, and using data fusion and digital subtraction, results in the difference as automatic outcomes analysis. For education, training and ultimately certification, rare pathologies or congenital anomalies can be used in virtual reality surgical simulators.
Thus, the entire spectrum of health care can be enhanced with the use of the holomer. We do not have to wait for the holographic displays, we can begin the journey using current day 3-D images on computer monitors. Clearly, the future direction lies in cyberspace. Back to Project Showcase