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Wake Forest bolsters diagnostic imaging access in Ecuador with virtual reality

John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | August 04, 2022
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Wake Forest University School of Medicine is studying the use of VR to read neuroradiology scans in developing nations like Ecuador.
Neuroradiologists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have rolled out a new pilot program to assess using virtual reality to remotely read MR scans and other medical images from Ecuador.

Using Lenovo hardware and Luxsonic Technologies’ software, the North Carolina school, along with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and QRA Medical Specialty Clinic in Quito, Ecuador, is exploring how VR technology may speed up access to care in developing nations, many of which lack subspecialty-trained neuroradiologists.

Radiology professor Dr. Jonathan Burdette travels periodically to Ecuador to read radiology studies. Because of technology limitations, many radiologists in the U.S. and Canada are forced to do the same to help their colleagues in these countries.

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“The wonderful thing about this is that it’s a collaborative environment with people who can look at medical images at the same time, regardless of where they are in the world. We are able to interpret images in incredible detail while communicating with the referring clinicians who are seeing the same images in real time, which is just not possible in a traditional reading room in the hospital,” said Burdette.

The system is portable, opening up the potential for new uses, such as remote subspecialty reading throughout the Atrium Health system, or having a portable ultrasound unit on board an ambulance or helicopter where images can be viewed by multiple people at the hospital in real time while the patient is being transported there.

The program will also offer opportunities for residents at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador to learn from neuroradiologists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The pilot is meant to be a blueprint for future collaborations worldwide, says Burdette. “The educational, clinical and research possibilities in the VR environment are endless. We do not yet know exactly what the future may bring, but this is certainly exciting and is just the tip of the iceberg for what we may be able to do.”

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