X-Ray System Aims to Show Skeletal Movement in 3-D


This seems too good to be true, but if they can make it happen, it’s going to be a huge breakthrough in scientific visualization.

PROVIDENCE, R.I., Feb. 5, 2007 — A new technology is being created that will allow doctors and scientists to do the seemingly impossible: See inside living humans and animals and watch their bones move in three dimensions as they run, fly, jump, swim and slither. This high-resolution, high-speed imaging system will contribute to better treatments for knee, shoulder, wrist and back injuries and help scientists understand the evolution of complex movements, from the flight of birds to the leap of frogs.

“This will be like having x-ray vision — you’ll be able to see through skin and muscle and watch a skeleton move in 3-D,” said Elizabeth Brainerd, the Brown University biology professor overseeing development of the new system. “Imagine animated x-ray movies of flying bats or flexing knees. It’s very cool technology that is also very important from a biomedical standpoint.”

The new system, dubbed CTX, will combine the 3-D capability of CT scanners and the real-time movement tracking of cinefluoroscopy. CTX technology is expected to deliver images with exceptional precision and detail. Researchers will be able to track 3-D skeletal movements with 0.1-mm accuracy and see the equivalent of 1000 CT images per second. The result will be a powerful tool with applications for basic and applied research: testing new theories of biomechanics, such as muscle-tendon interactions; studying the evolution of bodies and how they move, such as birds’ multijointed wings; planning orthopedic surgeries and comparing the effectiveness of different approaches; creating better treatments for shoulder, wrist, knee and back injuries; and driving innovations in computer graphics and scientific visualization.


Click to see a movie of a real-time animation of the foot bones of a pig while walking.

Read the original article at photonics.com.



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