Virtual reality in medicine and biology

Jon J. Camp, Bruce M. Cameron, Daniel Blezek, Richard A. Robb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Medical and biological applications of virtual reality technology serve a wide range of basic research, educational, diagnostic and surgical planning purposes. All these applications rely on accurate, efficient, 3D models of human anatomy, extracted from sectional image data, although the level of required interactivity and "realism" varies widely between applications. In this paper, we describe our approach to creating tiled surface models from volumetric data, using examples of both normal anatomy as represented by the NLM Visible Human Project, and pathological anatomy from CT and MRI images of patients. We also describe how applications requiring varying levels of complexity and interactivity can be accommodated by making VR resources such as tracking and display devices available to multiple systems via local networking. Our experience with anesthesia simulation, virtual endoscopy, prostate and neurological surgery planning, as well as 3D histological analysis of tissues in the eye, prostate cancer and studies of single neurons demonstrates the broad scope and variety of applications of virtual reality technology in medicine and biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-108
Number of pages18
JournalFuture Generation Computer Systems
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 1998


  • 3D Microscopic reconstruction
  • Anatomic modeling
  • Surgery simulation
  • Virtual endoscopy
  • Virtual reality
  • Volume rendering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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