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Video Game Technology to Save Lives

New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies
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Medical imaging technology gives doctors detailed pictures of patients' bodies.

A hospital in the American state of Texas is using video game technology to help doctors save patients’ lives. The technology shows detailed pictures of patients’ bodies. Doctors then use the pictures to plan and perform operations.

Video Game Technology to Save Lives
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The new imaging technology is called Plato’s CAVE.

Dr. Brian Butler is a cancer specialist at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. He is also the lead creator of CAVE.

“Computer engineers and video gamers really propelled this type of technology into a possibility.”

Complex images

CAVE turns information from other medical imaging machines -- such as CT, MRI and PET scanners – into complex pictures of the human body.

CAVE images look like video game graphics: they appear almost real. And, doctors can play with CAVE images. They can touch the video screen to make the images turn, grow, shrink or change direction.


Mas Takashima is a doctor who uses Plato’s CAVE. He says the technology is important because it helps doctors imagine operations in advance.

“When you have the data so you can then visualize exactly what's going on, it definitely decreases the stress level or the anxiety level of just wondering, 'oh, is there a possibility that that blood vessel might be, you know, wrapped around this tumor?'”

Recently, doctors used CAVE technology to plan a difficult operation. Their patient had accidentally shot himself with an arrow. The doctors could see where the arrow had entered the man’s head. They also could see how close it was to critical blood vessels.

Medical images are a relatively new field. But CAVE is an important development. And it is just the beginning, experts say. As technology changes, medical images will only improve.

This story was based on a report by George Putic. It was written for Learning English by Kelly Jean Kelly.


Words in the News

image - n. a reproduction of the appearance of a person or thing

shrink - v. to make or become less in size, weight or value

tumor - n. a mass of tissue made up of abnormal cells

arrow - n. a weapon that is usually a stick with a point at one end

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