The concept of using computer modeling to simulate functions of various devices and systems is not new, but continuing advances in 3D modeling software are enabling engineers and scientists to achieve breathtakingly high degrees of realism and detail in simulating often complex systems. Such as the case with Dassault Systèmes SIMULIA, which developed a model of the heart described in this month’s cover story, “Miracle of the Living Heart: Pushing the Boundaries of Medical Simulation”, written by contributing writer Joyce Laird.
Far more than a computer simulation, SIMULIA created a 3D model of a beating human heart that people can virtually “walk through”. The project was a massive undertaking, with SIMULIA bringing in experts who understood the many components and functions of the heart: tissue, electric physiology, how the heart works, to mention a few.
The project clearly demonstrates the enormous capabilities of today’s simulation software, according to Steve Levine, Senior Director of SIMULIA Life Sciences and Executive Director for the Living Heart Project. But Levine sees many practical benefits for the medical community. For one, he foresees patients going for MRIs being able to see a model their own heart stored in database of reference heart models, which can identify patients who have similar conditions and compare treatments regimes. Levine envisions development of a “digital twin” of human beings that replicated their specific anatomies and became a virtual medical history that is continually being updated.
Looking more to the here and now, this month’s issue also takes how medical technology is trying to solve the pressing problem of opioid abuse. In the article “Medical Technology Rises to Battle Opioid Abuse”, by new contributing writer Annie Keller, noted medical expert Dr. Paul Christo, author of Aches & Gains and Sirius XM Host, suggests several non-opioid medications for pain treatment. Dr. Christo points out a growing number of technology-based pain management solutions are available for pain treatment.
Many of these solutions rely on neurostimulation therapy, which applies a safe, low voltage to the dorsal spine to block pain signals. While not a complete panacea for pain, these technologies at least promise a safer alternative to the addictive effects of opioids.
This month’s issue also takes a look at recent developments in imaging sensors and transducers, which are enabling the design of increasingly sophisticated, high resolution imaging systems for X-rays, endoscopes, CT scanners, diagnostic sonography, and other applications. In the article, contributing writer Debbie Sniderman notes one key development has been the improvements in ultrasound transducers, a technology that in the past had performance limitations.
But thanks to piezoelectric micromachined ultrasound transducers (pMUT), ultrasound transducers offer better imaging depth than ever. Moreover, with the benefits of silicon integration, ultrasound transducers are reducing both the size and costs of imaging probes, allowing these devices to be in some cases, carried in a doctor’s pocket.