Doctors Implant 3D-Printed Vertebrae

3D Printers have helped medicine come a long way, with the ability to customise and create things in an easy and cost-effective way that previously would have been impossible to do. 3D-printed ribs, to livers, eyes and even ears. While these are all amazing feats, they have always been generic items, things which are custom but not unique in their design. At the end of 2015, this changed though when a patient was implanted with two 3D printed vertebrae.

Vertebrae are the discs that cling to your spine and are responsible for giving you a lot of your movement. The patient in question suffered from a form of cancer that had formed on the top two of his vertebrae, potentially threatening his spinal cord as it developed. The top two vertebrae are the ones responsible for your heads movement, meaning that grafting one from another piece of bone or material would be particularly difficult given their custom nature.

The solution was to work with an Australian medical device manufacturer, Anatomics, who using a 3D printer created the top two vertebrae using a 3D printer and some titanium. Ralph Mobbs, the neurosurgeon who performed the surgery stated that it was “a pure delight” to perform the surgery knowing that you had already done it on a model.

The surgery itself took 15 hours to perform and given the location was not without risk. Described as “essentially disattaching the patient’s head from his neck and taking the tumour out and reattaching his head back into his neck”. The surgery was a success though and Mobbs was able to not only remove the tumor but also implant the prosthetic into the patient.

Is there anything people can’t do when they work together with technology and each other?

Google Cardboard Used to help Save a Baby’s Life

It is mostly the Oculus Rift and the Sony’s Playstation VR that take the headlines these days, but that doesn’t mean that simpler tools such as the Google Cardboard can’t be useful. In this case it was extremely useful as it helped to plan an operation virtually first and quite possibly have saved a baby’s life at the same time.

Teegan Lexcen was born with a unique defect that the doctors hadn’t seen before. Most of the left half of her heart was missing and on top of that she only has one lung. The parents were originally told by their doctors that nothing could be done. The poor girl was sent to a hospice to have the best care in the little time she had left. But two weeks later, Teegan was still alive. At this point her parents started to look for alternatives and found Redmond Burke, chief of cardiovascular surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. Burke’s idea, along with a team of heart surgeons, was to 3D print a model of Teegan’s heart and go from there. But to make bad news worse, the 3D printer was broken and due to Teegan’s dangerous condition, something had to be done fast.

The doctors then turned to virtual reality in order to get a 3D image of the child’s chest region and organs. Doctors downloaded 3D images of the heart to an iPhone using the app Sketchfab. The images were similar to the 3D models that the doctors had on their computers, but the Google Cardboard used made it easier to accurately view every angle of the heart’s structure.

There were two major difficulties with this surgery, besides the extra risk that there always is with patients this young. First, the heart was placed further to the left of the chest than normal. That would normally require a very big incision which is a “massive trauma to a baby, it’s just horrendous,” Burke told CNN. Thanks to the Google Cardboard, Burke was able to visualize the precise location and use a much smaller and simpler midline incision.

The second challenge was a missing ventricle. Normally we have two, one that supplies the blood to the lungs while the other takes care of the rest. This was a tricky one in all conditions, but again the Google Cardboard helped Burke come up with a completely new procedure and solution for the problem. He rerouted Teegan’s right ventricle so it could continue to pump blood to both her lungs and body. He did this after having spent hours examining the 3D image of Teegan’s heart in Google Cardboard before pulling off the procedure with no complications.

This is a perfect example of why I love technology. When it is used for good and to help. In this case it was something as simple and cheap as a Google Cardboard (together with a lesser cheap iPhone) that helped do what an expensive 3D printer failed at. I wish little Teegan and her entire family all the best, may they all have a blessed life together.

Peter Jackson to Direct Episode of Doctor Who

A year ago we released an article stating that Peter Jackson could direct a future episode of Doctor Who. The time is nigh.

Peter Jackson is very active with his facebook, posting snippets from behind the scenes and regarding causes he actively supports. While he is well known for his work on the J.R.R Tolkien films such as the Lords of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies, Jackson is well known for supporting and looking out for anything that he could be creative with. Doctor Who is just one of those shows and as a video posted on his facebook shows, he is not one to shy away from announcing his activity in the show in the near future.

While there are no real details and this may be premature, there is hope that this could mean in the near future, maybe next season, we could see an episode with the Jackson touch. While famous for its big guest appearances there is rarely a guest producer or director, especially one known for his large films. As if that wasn’t mean enough for the Doctor Who fans, Tolkien fans may notice the Silmarillion (yet another one of Tolkien’s books set in Middle Earth) marked with post-it notes and an inserted page. Because teasing one fan base is just not enough.

We Could Be Teaching Computers How and What to Learn in the Near Future

We’ve seen a lot of projects and methods involving machine learning up until now, but the truth is that no matter how efficient and quick a computer is, the software will always be its limit. However, Microsoft plans to change that and is working on a new tool that would allow you to teach computers new things.

There is a lot of information about the project and tool on Microsoft’s website, but let’s get straight to what the Microsoft Research team wants to do. Take a jigsaw puzzle for example, where every piece of it fits somewhere and contributes to the big picture once complete. This seems to be the approach Microsoft hopes people will take, where each jigsaw puzzle piece is created by someone knowledgeable in his or her field. This means that a doctor can teach a computer how to search for specific patient details in a database, while a chef can teach it how to make the best dish according to a recipe.

However, to get a lot of people from different fields together in this project, Microsoft also needs to build the tool as simple and understandable as possible. This means that Microsoft is looking for a way to make the tool more autonomous and offer a simple and understandable user interface. I mean developers know how to use such tools, but they can’t expect a doctor to know how to use a complex development tool.

The tool, named Language Understanding Intelligent Service or LUIS for short, is part of the Oxford Project. Though it still is in its early stages, it may prove to be a strong and useful tool for complex AI development. You can view more details about the project over at Microsoft’s Blog. The tool can also be found over at its website here, but you will need to get an invitation first to try it out.

Image courtesy of Radio1.be

Did Batman Turn From Superhero to ‘Super Murderer’ in the Arkham Knight?

Batman is considered a superhero and was created with that intent in mind. We see that in the comics and movies created so far, but what about the games? Sure, they need to be tweaked a bit to get players more interested in the game and make it ‘sellable’, but how far would you go to change that?

According to a medical examiner, as well as some screenshots, it looks like non-lethal Batman just turned serial killer in the latest Batman: Arkham Knight title. Dr. M. Hussain points out that some of the moves pictured below can cause “damage to the spine and ribs” and other lethal injuries.

“The amount of force required to kick someone across the room would be very high and can cause damage to organs.” Dr. Hussain noted.

On top of that, some of the vehicle collisions and rocket ‘punches’ displayed below simply speak for themselves. Don’t take our word for it though. If you played the game, you may be familiar with some scenes or actions that Batman performs, where it is clearly visible that his opponent(s) have no chance of survival. Here are some examples below:

I know we are talking about a game here where “Nothing is true, everything is permitted”, but let’s be honest here. We want to know Batman for who he was created to be, right? And as far as I know, Batman did not change his approach toward villains. What’s your thought on this? Let us know in the comments below.

Thank you GamesRadar for providing us with this information

Scientists Find a Way to Reveal Your Viral Past With Just a Drop of Blood

During our lifetime, we get exposed to dozens of viruses, but luckily our bodies are well equipped to deal with it. Our immune system produces antibodies to deal with foreign agents and make us well again. However, the antibodies tailored for these viruses tend to linger in our bodies prolonged periods of time.

A team of researchers from Harvard, MIT and Howard Hughes Medical Institute got a brilliant idea of making use of the above-mentioned antibodies and came up with a new method of revealing what viruses your body was exposed to. The method is called VirScan and it can reveal your entire viral history with just a drop of blood.

The method involves mixing a patient’s blood with a set of known human viruses. Each virus carries a unique protein signature that the antibodies are trained to identify and attack. This means that dropping a blood sample filled with antibodies in a pool of viruses will ‘activate’ the antibodies and tell the researchers which virus strains were targeted.

To test their theory, the researchers performed tests on 569 patients. The results revealed that, on average, we are exposed to 10 viral species, with some even being exposed to up to 84 viral species. VirScan has also proved to be a cheap testing method, allowing doctors to perform a variety of tests at once for about $25.

The researchers say that VirScan is not only about identifying your past viruses. The method can also be used for early detection of viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV, as well as give doctors more insight on some viruses we don’t quite understand yet.

Thank you Newsweek for providing us with this information

Software Developer Wants to Turn Rehab into a Video Game

A Romanian software engineer by the name of Cosmin Mihaiu and his colleagues have demonstrated a new way patients can recover from injuries at TED Conference in Vancouver. He came up with the idea from an arm injury he suffered as a child and he believes that rehabilitation exercises can be performed with the help of Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox.

“We need to come up with solutions to get patients motivated to get better,” Mihaiu told AFP. “No one likes treatment, but if we can make it in a way where people don’t think it is cumbersome they will get better faster and save costs.”

He invented a system called MIRA (Medical Interactive Recovery Assistant), which physical therapists can use and customize motion-controlled games to reward patients for doing prescribed movements. The system is currently designed to be offline and available in clinics, but Mihaiu is said to be working on an online version as well, which patients can use at home and share performance data with therapists.

“We don’t want to replace the physical therapists,” Mihaiu said. “We want to develop a digital pill that can be prescribed to help the patient get better.”

MIRA is currently being trialled in clinics from Britain and Romania, with an annual subscription price of several thousand dollars. Mihaiu states that there is a large market in the rehabilitation industry for software such as MIRA and unlike fitness games, medical games come with endorsements and follow-ups from doctors, nurses and therapists.

Thank you Phys for providing us with this information

Yo Lineup Service Lets Doctors’ Offices and Restaurants Handle Queues

The one-word messaging app by the name of Yo appears to constantly add new services. A while back, the Yo app launched a service that lets you know about missile strikes in Israel. Now, the app has launched another service which lets doctors’ offices and restaurants handle queues.

“We got an inquiry from a doctors’ office in Miami that read about our restaurant solution and wanted the same,” Or Arbel, founder of Yo, has stated in an email.

They released the Yo Lineup service shortly after, granting people in waiting rooms and restaurant lobbies a way to get Yo’d when they are next in line.

Users who want to try this should know that both the client and the restaurant and/or doctor’s office need to have the Yo app and an account on the Yo Lineup service for it to work. However, the sign-up and download is fairly simple, easy and quick. Yo claims that the service as even been tried 2 million times already.

Yo has also confirmed a figure of $1.5 million in funding this month, but is constantly battling Yo wanna-be apps that keep popping up on the AppStore. Yolo is one of them, having Arbel asking Apple to take it down.

“Yo spawned many clones; though most of the clones offer something slightly different, some of them are a complete replication of the Yo app,” Arbel said. “Even the App Store description was copied word by word. We value creativity and we are in a free market; improving upon our concept is welcomed, copying us bit-by-bit isn’t.”

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Mashable

Google Glass Could Soon Make Its Way Into The Doctors Exam Room

Nashvill based startup Octovis, Inc. are looking to bring Google’s $1500 Glass into the examination room and operating theatre. Their intention is to make it easier for doctors to take notes, access patient information, check MRI results and more while performing surgery. Of course it could also allow them to update their Facebook status while testing your reflexes.

Octovis aren’t even the first company to try this, with Augmedix, Wearable Intelligence and Pristine all playing their hand in the market, although most of them are working on using the device in the emergency room. Octovis want to improve doctor-patient interaction in the exam room and having your information right in front of them could not only speed up assessments, but also give the doctor more time with you, rather than leaving you to check their computer for information.

It still remains to be seen if their concept will work, but they expect to start trials as well as offering their software and the Glass devices through a subscription model soon.

Thank you CNET for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of CNET.

 

Matt Smith To Hang Up The Sonic Screw Driver In 50th Anniversary

I predict that during this season of Doctor Who, that the Doctor will DIE!, and regenerate once again.

If you follow The Doctor along his travels you will know that every so often something happens to The Doctor along the way which causes him to regenerate. In a sense the Time Lord dies, and is reborn, sometimes he seems to have aged, though from my experience he seems to get younger. I only recently became a Dr. Who fan, when I came across the show on Netflix, not knowing what it was really when I started watching, I raced through season after season. Within a matter of a couple of months I watched all six seasons of Doctor Who, I couldn’t wait until season seven was going to start because I knew that I would get to continue watching this addicting show. Unfortunately I do not watch much television, and I am unable to stream shows on the BBC website 🙁

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXCpY_3Sac8[/youtube]

The current Doctor played by Matt Smith has put in his notice, it has been said that he will still be The Doctor for the 50th anniversary special in November, as well as the Christmas episode in December, but he will have regenerated by 2014. Apparently he will regenerate some time during the Christmas special.

The Doctor Who 50th anniversary special will air on BBC1 on Saturday 23 November.

Are you a Whovian? What are your thoughts on how well Matt Smith has played the roll of The Doctor?

 

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