The advent of the X-Ray machine was a significant advance for medicine, as practitioners finally had a way of seeing a human skeleton while a person was still more likely to be cured. Medical imaging itself has come a long way since then, but 3D X-Rays that give a realistic picture of all of the tissues and organs working together weren’t quite workable, until now.
The first 3D X-Rays we’ve seen so far are almost freaky as a perfect cross-section of muscle, connective tissue, and bone. Though CT scans can give a 3D picture of certain parts of the body, making them quite effective when it comes to diagnostic imaging, these new scanners offer precise details about each different layer by separating out individual X-Ray frequencies.
By employing these, doctors can distinguish not just bone and flesh, but even blood and muscle.
The hope is that the more detailed our imaging, the better the care can be, especially when it comes to issues within bones, blood vessels, or monitoring cancers. “My hope is that this sort of technology, as it winds its way through medicine, will improve the diagnosis and treatment of many of the 300 million people worldwide who annually get a CT scan,” explains Anthony Butler, one of the co-inventors of the technology.
Butler, who is a radiologist at the New Zealand Universities of Canterbury and Otago, worked with his father who is a physicist at the University of Canterbury to create the new scanner capable of distinguishing these frequencies. Called the MARs scanner, it’s now being used in labs around the world, but it isn’t quite ready for hospital use just yet.
Of course, for the layperson, the images produced may seem grotesquely detailed, but considering that healthcare providers have trained in actual surgery, this is just a cool and helpful tool.