The visualization of medical images with advanced techniques, such as augmented reality and virtual reality, represent a breakthrough for medical professionals. In contrast to more traditional visualization tools lacking 3D capabilities, these systems use the three available dimensions. To visualize medical images in 3D, the anatomical areas of interest must be segmented. Currently, manual segmentation, which is the most commonly used technique, and semi-automatic approaches can be time consuming because a doctor is required, making segmentation for each individual case unfeasible. Using new technologies, such as computer vision and artificial intelligence for segmentation algorithms and augmented and virtual reality for visualization techniques implementation, we designed a complete platform to solve this problem and allow medical professionals to work more frequently with anatomical 3D models obtained from medical imaging. As a result, the Nextmed project, due to the different implemented software applications, permits the importation of digital imaging and communication on medicine (dicom) images on a secure cloud platform and the automatic segmentation of certain anatomical structures with new algorithms that improve upon the current research results. A 3D mesh of the segmented structure is then automatically generated that can be printed in 3D or visualized using both augmented and virtual reality, with the designed software systems. The Nextmed project is unique, as it covers the whole process from uploading dicom images to automatic segmentation, 3D reconstruction, 3D visualization, and manipulation using augmented and virtual reality. There are many researches about application of augmented and virtual reality for medical image 3D visualization; however, they are not automated platforms. Although some other anatomical structures can be studied, we focused on one case: a lung study. Analyzing the application of the platform to more than 1000 dicom images and studying the results with medical specialists, we concluded that the installation of this system in hospitals would provide a considerable improvement as a tool for medical image visualization.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited