A virtual radiology reading room – How to view medical imagery in VR
Radiology and VR
In March of 2022, I had the pleasure of taking part in a Varjo webinar alongside Dr. Avez Rizvi (Chief Medical Officer at Luxonic), Dr. Chuck Martin (Staff Interventional Radiologist at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation), and Geoff Bund (Head of North America Software Partnerships at Varjo). We discussed the current state-of-the-art in medical imaging and virtual/mixed reality, including an overview of Luxsonic’s SieVRt radiology workflow platform. We also talked about the immersive future of radiology VR and healthcare in general. Special thanks to Dr. Martin, MD for joining and bringing a fantastic ‘on-the-ground’ radiologist’s perspective of use of the software, bringing in anecdotes from what he is seeing in an ongoing study taking part at Cleveland Clinic.
If you would like to watch the full recording of the radiology VR session, you can access it by clicking here.
What is SieVRt?
Radiology is a core part of the modern healthcare system, without it thousands of conditions, traumas and diseases would go undiagnosed and untreated. Radiologists review your medical images in a special office called a radiology reading room. The entire room is a complex workflow tool, but it’s fixed in place and expensive to set up and maintain. This means that it’s very difficult for radiologists to access their workflow outside of a clinical setting, severally limiting their ability to control their working conditions. SieVRt is software that allows medical professionals to access the equivalent of a virtual reading room in an immersive, virtual (or mixed reality) environment. With the use of a VR/XR headset, radiologists can use SieVRt to view and interact with 2D and 3D medical images (MR, CT, ultrasound, etc.), with all of the tools they would have in their traditional workspace and more.
This allows radiologists to ‘decouple’ themselves from the traditional requirement of always being on location in ‘brick and mortar’ reading rooms to carry out work, opening brand new remote work possibilities for the sector and introducing numerous cost-saving opportunities.
In addition, as multiple users can enter the radiology VR reading room as part of a collaborative session (regardless of the geographical locations) there are also very exciting opportunities for long-distance professional collaboration and consultation, as well as training and education use cases.
Why Varjo for medical VR use?
Although SieVRt runs on multiple devices and platforms, Varjo’s headsets (HMDs) are a great fit for the software. Varjo’s HMDs are clear market leaders for VR/XR image quality, clarity, and comfort and are commonly used in the field of healthcare. When used in a use case such as radiology, where observing minute details is critical to effective use, the human eye resolution provided by the Varjo XR-3 or VR-3 meets the suggested standards required for imaging review.
Selection of Q&A from the webinar
During the webinar, we received a number of great questions from the audience, here are our answers to a selection of those.
Are there any limitations in terms of network security and the headsets? Can you meet HIPPA constraints – especially for rRemote/mobile work environments?
The SieVRt platform utilizes a layered data and authentication security system. Individual user information is encrypted in transit and at rest.
Depending on regional regulations and client requirements, we comply with individual data residency and redundancy specifications to ensure optimal security and performance of the platform for end-users.
Is SieVRt software PC compatible?
Yes, you can contact the team here to learn more about SieVRt’s compatibility and requirements.
Is there a good path to develop for Varjo headsets without the funds to obtain a Varjo HMD at this point of time?
Yes, you can simulate the HMD view via the Analytics Window in our Varjo Base software, you can find more information about it here. We also recommend exploring the Varjo Developer Center. Explore that here.
What minimum specs does a PC need to run Varjo HMDs?
You can find full information on system requirements in the Use Center on the Varjo website. Check it out here.
Can you speak to the advantages of VR over just using PACS with a mobile device?
To do their work efficiently, radiologists need multiple diagnostic computer monitors. The configuration of those monitors is important and is personalized for each radiologist and different imaging modalities. Trying to view medical images on a mobile phone or even a laptop, really isn’t efficient or possible in many cases. With SieVRt, you have a full virtual office with you everywhere you go, providing the same functionality as a traditional workspace, in a mobile package.
Has any thought been given to developing “paramedic glasses”? Specifically, developing an AR system that determines heart rate, oxygen saturation and respiratory rate from a live video image and presenting it to the first responder. Prof. Kirk Shelley MD, PhD – Yale University
Great question! In addition to our work on SieVRt, we are working with the Canadian Space Agency to develop mixed reality training and real-time procedural guidance for future astronauts. The same technology could be used in emergency medicine here on Earth. In fact, we are already working with Paramedic regulators to create competency assessments in VR. A heads-up display for paramedics would be the next logical step.
How much does SieVRt cost and the Varjo VR headsets cost compare to that of a traditional reading room?
Depending on the setup, we expect up to 80% cost savings when compared to traditional reading room hardware. SieVRt is a modular software platform that can be configured to the needs of the institution, so the costs can vary. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a meeting to discuss your needs.
Can you visualize contrast agents in the coronary arteries with VR?
Yes, SieVRt is capable of loading almost all types of DICOM imaging data, including contrast enhanced computed tomography angiograms.
How well does the Varjo work if one wears eye glasses?
Varjo headsets are fully compatible with user eye glasses and are designed to comfortably fit most frame sizes.
Do you have packages/libraries for Unity or Unreal engine development?
You can find more information about our integrations with Unity and Unreal at the Varjo Developer Portal. Check it out here.
Can you provide links to the videos you are showing?
You can find videos demonstrating the SIEVRT UI on YouTube such as this one. There is also more information on the alternative Varjo XR/VR solutions shown at the beginning of this presentation, with the Laerdal use case and the Touch of Life use case.