Toshiba Uses VR to Ease MRI Anxiety

By Norbert Hildebrand
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Toshiba Corporation and Toshiba Medical Systems are showcasing a virtual reality solution for the use in MRI machines. Most MRI systems include a narrow tunnel where the user’s head goes leading to anxiety in some patients. The new system adds a projection system to the MRI system and uses a projection screen in conjunction with a mirror system to create a virtual image that takes the attention away from the actual space inside the MRI system. The projection screen is dome shaped and located inside of the MRI machine just behind the patient. The projector is located outside the MRI system to ensure no interference from the strong magnetic fields.

Source: Toshiba

Since the screen and the mirror move with the patient, the virtual image appears always in the same position in relation to the patient. This way, the patient does not have to move his head to see the image, which is critical for the MRI examination. To achieve a really immersive image, the total field of view covers not only the central part but also the peripheral part of the user’s vision system.

In the peripheral part Toshiba creates a “vision stimulus” that is not a high resolution image. The high resolution is limited to the central part of the vision system. The application requires a very large virtual image with field of view covering about 200° horizontally and 130° vertically, a very large projected image indeed.

At the moment this is only a concept and Toshiba does not guarantee that they will bring this to the market. A very cool concept anyway. -NH

Analyst Comment

We’ve previously reported on work by MRI makers to develop stories and graphics to encourage children to stay very still when in the machine. (Don’t let the pirate catch you!). This improves outcomes at very little cost and also helps to reduce anxiety. We’ll be at the European Radiology Congress next month, so will look to see if there is any demonstration of this system from Toshiba. (BR)