ERCIM News No.29 - April 1997

Multimedia Training Systems in Cardiology

by Gernoth Grunst

The cardiological developments of the project area SCENE at GMD show the potential benefits of imaging computer systems with scene-based user inter-faces. Tutorials and simulations are designed for ultrasound examinations of the heart (echocardiography). To support this cognitively demanding diagnostic procedure and to efficiently deal with notorious problems, inter-active 3D graphics and animations provide explorative scenarios where ultrasound images and graphical models are linked as visual expla-nations (augmented reality concept).

The multimedia tutorial EchoTutor gives practical hints and intuitive illustrations for echocardiographic examinations. Visualisations show the handling of the transducer, transmit an understanding of the spatial orientation of the imaging plane within the heart, and guide the interpretation of ultrasound images. The 4D-Heart-Explorer provides detailed visualisations of the beating heart by means of interactive animations. The heart can be rotated and viewed from different positions. Transparency and degree of detail can be selected in order to explore its outer and inner structure, or the dynamics of the valves, the chambers, and the blood.


EchoTutor and 4D HeartExplorer interfaces.

The interactive simulation system EchoSim lets the user conduct virtual ultrasound examinations. The spatial orientation of a transducer on a human chest model is transferred into a 3D computer scene. Semitransparent stereoscopic presentations of the chest and the inner and outer heart structures provide visual cues for sweeps and rotations of the imaging plane. Furthermore, standard views and typical ultrasound loops can be used for guidance. Users can train eye-hand-coupling and the visual understanding of the scenes. The experiences merge into a mental model of the heart.

Overlaying model contours onto an ultrasound image in EchoSim.

The systems can be integrated into VINGMED ultrasound devices. During actual examinations, they provide training and on line guidance to support the acquisition and diagnostic interpretation of ultrasound images. The modules comprise examples for a new kind of enabling systems which integrate interactive multimedia technology into real problem domains, in this case a cardiological work context.

Partners of this project are the Department for Pediatric Cardiology (Prof. Dierk A. Redel), University of Bonn and the SONOTRON/VINGMED company.

Please contact:
Gernoth Grunst - GMD
Tel: +49 2241 140

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