When it comes to looking at a patient’s insides, doctors have long been able to use radiation and sound to “see” bones, muscles and organs. X-rays, MRI and ultrasound continue to provide doctors with reliable, two-dimensional images.
“We have the technical base to develop new knowledge right here in Edmonton that will be used around the world,”
says Dr. Michelle Noga, Director of the SVCC, and cardiac radiologist at the Maz.
There’s plenty of innovation that this lab has embraced in its very short existence. Walk in, and you’ll see a couple of large screens and a bank of smaller computers. An image of a patient’s heart is called up on the largest screen, and Dr. Noga hands me a pair of 3D glasses. I put them on, and now the heart is floating in front of my eyes.
“It’s like comparing a 3D movie to a flat-screen TV,” she says.
But it’s not just about the doctors. A patient can view his or her own organs. Instead of receiving a diagnosis filled with Latin and complex medical terms, a person can look at his or her own heart and be shown what’s wrong.
“It helps the patient understand what’s happening in their own body,” says Noga. “They’ll better understand the surgery that’s coming up, they’ll understand what’s going to happen to them. And patients are all curious about what they look like on the inside.”
She shows a new example on the screen; with the glasses on, we see a 3D image of a heart valve. It opens, but there’s a gap when it’s supposed to close. She explains that this is an image from an infant who had a heart defect — a leaky valve. Without any medical training, I can see that the valve doesn’t close properly. Now, imagine the nervous parents of this child being shown this image; they’ll know exactly what the doctors have to do, and why.