The Loh Down On Science

Hearts on the Mend

A Harvard cardiac surgeon says video game technology offers a better way to fix a broken heart.

Wanna play Doctor?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh, with the Loh Down on Science.

And on videogame technology that's making hearts pound.

Cardiac surgeon Nikolay Vasilyev, from Harvard Medical School, is at the, um, cutting edge of cardiology.

He operates on beating hearts, using robotics to control flexible instruments, while guided by real-time 3D ultrasound images.

Vasilyev decided that those ultrasound images weren't quite good enough. So he did what any good MD would do: Took a lesson from the videogame industry.

He duplicated the ultrasound image and shifted its position slightly, to reflect the perspective of the left and right eyes. When viewed through a pair of gamers' goggles, the images merge to become a heart hologram.

Vasilyev tested the system on pigs with heart defects and found he could zip through procedures in nearly half the time it usually takes.

He had about forty percent more control over the instruments.

A GOOD thing when patching broken hearts, don't you think?

Oh, if only scientists could mend hearts broken by love! At least pig hearts. Broken by love. Or too much slop. That's the idea anyway.


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