4D imaging in healthcare has evolved to such a great extent that today, it has become a fundamental imaging modality across the entire continuum of healthcare . The potential roles of imaging are being developed across clinical research and drug development to support medical experts in selecting and providing the most effective and appropriate line of treatment; thus, saving a huge number of lives each year.
How is 4D imaging changing healthcare?
Medical imaging is a technique used to create images of the body or body parts to help doctors determine acute diagnoses. CT/ MRI machines are examples of imaging technologies that produce thousands of images at once. It is important to ensure that all images and angles are covered for referring doctors and radiologists to analyze every cross-section of the image before starting treatment. With the adoption of 4D technology in medical imaging, doctors can access live motion of the cross-section images of the 3D scan of the body area, and the data is accessible without the aid of a separate object, (e.g., glasses, or film). Advanced imaging technologies can display images at very high resolutions of 80,000 volumetric pixels (voxels) and can potentially replace more invasive diagnostic procedures, improve diagnostic confidence in patients and offer easy-to-read solutions for patient analysis.
What are the opportunities for 4D imaging in healthcare?
The development of advanced imaging instruments has significantly transformed the field of diagnosis, and these advanced methods have helped in visualizing cellular details to understand the root cause of certain diseases. The medical imaging market has witnessed noteworthy growth in recent years. The utilization of 4D imaging within the healthcare sector is expanding at a healthy pace by allowing for the performance of dynamic measurements. In addition to diagnostic and surgical planning and navigation, 4D imaging systems are achieving increasing popularity in patient monitoring and rehabilitation. These instruments are primarily used in professional settings (e.g., hospitals, and doctors' offices) due to their high cost and large footprint. There are, however, various activities in progress aimed at creating more portable and affordable systems, which are expected to create new opportunities in the fields of telemedicine and patient self-testing. Other opportunities in this market are as follows:
Enhancements in spatial and temporal resolution
Enhancements in 4D imaging spatial and temporal resolution are being pursued by various techniques, including the utilization of multi-mode equipment and the fabrication of systems dedicated to specific conditions, such as cancer. This equipment is built to detect both pathological and functional conditions, such as tumor malignancy, tissue blood content, blood flow, hypoxia, ischemia, and edema. These new instruments utilize 4D electromagnetic tomography, which entails generating an electromagnetic field that synchronizes with the electrical signals produced by certain body activities, such as the excitation of nervous or cardiac tissue.
The term "multi-mode systems" refers to equipment that combines different technologies, designed to provide complementary information and to cover different aspects of the data-gathering process. Examples of multimodal 4D imaging systems include PET/CT, MRI/CT, and SPECT/CT. Instruments that combine CT, MRI, and PET are being introduced for the treatment and follow-up of tumors by radiofrequency ablation. Multi-modality imaging is helping to enhance diagnostic power, although it increases the cost of the medical instrument, as well as its dimensions, making the equipment bulkier and less suitable for mobile applications. These advanced, modular instruments, which also perform phase-resolved 4D imaging, are helping to further advance tumor treatment by radiotherapy.
Portable and Wireless Systems
Ongoing miniaturization occurring in the electronics industry is also affecting the design of medical imaging devices, leading to the fabrication of instruments that are more compact, lightweight, and transportable. They can communicate wirelessly, and they offer new features due to the incorporation of microprocessors. Portable 4D imaging devices currently include primarily ultrasound systems, which have become available in both on-wheel and desktop sizes. The Mindray M6, manufactured by Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics, is a 3D/4D ultrasound instrument that measures 36.1 centimeters by 35.7 centimeters by 7.5 centimeters and weighs 6.5 kilograms. Other companies are introducing mobile CT, MRI, and nuclear imaging scanners. These are heavier systems on wheels designed to be easily moved around a healthcare facility.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
New opportunities for 4D imaging systems are occurring in the field of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). The implementation of VR/AR technologies represents an important trend in healthcare. VR/AR systems enhanced with 4D imaging are attracting growing interest in various fields of medicine, including cardiology, oral-maxillofacial, and orthopedics. These instruments are being applied to the diagnosis and treatment of bone injuries. They allow the physician to perform interactive evaluation and viewing through VR/AR technology, as well as to zoom in or out of the patient using gestures. As a result, doctors can check bone injuries more comprehensively and with increased accuracy and devise safer treatments.
Learn more about 4D imaging in the healthcare industry
Medical imaging is playing an increasingly important role in modern healthcare, where it is used for non-invasive diagnostics, therapy planning, and follow-up evaluations. BCC predicts the market to more than double by 2027, reaching $16.6 billion. To read about the challenges this market could face over the forecast period, as well as the leading companies in this space, download your complimentary report overview of 4D imaging in healthcare.
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