Would be parents will be able to watch their unborn child develop in realistic and 3D immersive visualization. This has been made possible by virtual reality technology which uses MRI and ultrasound to recreate a 3D virtual reality model of the fetus. Details of the research were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI is used for fetal examination, and it provides high resolution fetal and placental images with excellent contrast.
Researchers in Brazil have used Sequentially-mounted MRI slices to create virtual reality 3D models. The physician selects the body part which needs to be 3D created. Once a 3D model is created which includes the womb, umbilical cord, placenta and fetus it is then integrated into a virtual reality device which is programmed to incorporate the model.
The technology has immense potential to be used for educational purposes and will allow parents to visualize their unborn baby. 3D models are exact replicas of the postnatal appearance of the newborn baby. It includes the internal structure of the fetus to the extent that even the respiratory tract of the fetus is clearly visualized. It will also aid the doctor in assessing any abnormalities in the fetus.
The researchers used the latest Oculus Rift 2 headset. The headset places the user in a very realistic surrounding complete with heartbeat sounds obtained from the ultrasound of the fetus.
The technology has some applications such as assessing fetal airway to check if it is blocked or open. The technology can also help manage care with multidisciplinary teams and can provide precise visual information to parents so that they can better understand the malformations and take treatment decisions.
Researchers have tried out the technology on patients at a hospital and care center in Rio de Janeiro. It also included cases where the fetus had indications of an abnormality that required postnatal surgery.