A New Interactive Simulation System for Radiology Education – Merging Physical and Virtual Realities

Andy K.W. Ma and Ali A. Alghamdi


Radiology Education, Simulation, Monte Carlo, Anthropomorphic phantom


In the education and training of medical radiation technologists, radiographers, radiologists and other related areas in radiology, the trainees study various X-ray-based imaging systems and the procedures that imaging examinations are conducted. They must demonstrate their understanding of the relationship between the positioning of the patient in the imaging system and the expected observables in the resultant image. Current teaching practice often asks students to simulate the imaging procedure in role plays. The tutor will show them a radiological image obtained under similar condition. Such exercises have great values for the students will learn about the how a patient might feel in an examination as well as the practicality of each posture/positioning. A major drawback in the exercise is in the fact that an actual radiographic image cannot be obtained due to radiation risk. The learning experience is also limited by the availability of relevant images. Computer simulations overcome many inconveniences in role plays. Our aim is to give the students a flexible, realistic and interactive learning environment without exposure to radiation. We are proposing a new concept in radiology simulation that combines physical and virtual reality. Our proposed system is consisting of a physical mannequin representing the patient, a physical model of the imaging modality and an online Monte Carlo simulation package that generates the synthetic images in real time. Furthermore, the computational anthropomorphic model in the Monte Carlo package matches the physical mannequin in shape and dimension. The synthetic image thus generated actually corresponds to the physical positioning of the mannequin in the model imager. We have identified several candidate technologies for the purpose of mixed reality simulation – motion tracking of markers and mannequins for patient positioning; image libraries and synthetic radiography for image generation. In this presentation, we shall discuss our proposed system and review some of the technologies available.

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