X-Ray Precision++ With the Kinect

Medicine and the Kinect, peanut butter and jelly? Sometimes it seems so. Here's another example of the Kinect being used in an awesome non-traditional way...

Xbox gaming technology may improve X-ray precision

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With the aim of producing high-quality X-rays with minimal radiation exposure, particularly in children, researchers have developed a new approach to imaging patients. Surprisingly, the new technology isn’t a high-tech, high-dollar piece of machinery. Rather, it’s based on the Xbox gaming system.

Using proprietary software developed for the Microsoft Kinect system, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have adapted hands-free technology used for the popular Xbox system to aid radiographers when taking X-rays.

The software coupled with the Kinect system can measure thickness of body parts and check for motion, positioning and the X-ray field of view immediately before imaging, said Steven Don, MD, associate professor of radiology at the university’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology. Real-time monitoring alerts technologists to factors that could compromise image quality. For example, “movement during an X-ray requires retakes, thereby increasing radiation exposure,” Don said.

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“The goal is to produce high-quality X-ray images at a low radiation dose without repeating images,” Don said. “It sounds surprising to say that the Xbox gaming system could help us to improve medical imaging, but our study suggests that this is possible.”

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Traditionally steel calipers have been used to measure body-part thickness for X-rays. However, calipers are “time-consuming, intrusive and often scary to kids, especially those who are sick or injured,” said Don, a pediatric radiologist who treats patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

“To achieve the best image quality while minimizing radiation exposure, X-ray technique needs to be based on body-part thickness,” Don said. The gaming software has an infrared sensor to measure body-part thickness automatically without patient contact.

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This year, Don and his colleagues have received funding from Washington University and The Society for Pediatric Radiology. They will use these resources to continue research with the updated Microsoft Kinect 2.0 and seek feedback from radiological technologists to improve the software.

While further research and development are needed, the eventual goal is to apply the technology to new X-ray machines as well as retrofitting older equipment.

“Patients, technologists and radiologists want the best quality X-rays at the lowest dose possible without repeating images,” Don said. “This technology is a tool to help achieve that goal.”

Project Information URL: https://source.wustl.edu/2015/12/xbox-gaming-technology-may-improve-xray-precision/

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