skip to main content

Student team wins first place for proposal to use holograms to improve visualization of aneurysms

From left: Michelle Fultz, John Brabender, Alex Fabrizio, and Zachary Kemp won first place in the recent Health Care AppJam.

Zachary Kemp, Neuroscience senior student, member of the team that wins first place for proposal to use holograms to improve visualization of aneurysms.

Doctors currently look at blood flow in the body and examine abnormalities, such as aneurysms, through a 3-D, X-ray-based imaging technique.

Now, a Virginia Tech student team has proposed combining the existing technology of rotational angiographs with holographic technology to expand the visualization experience for physicians, patients, researchers, and students.

Being able to interact with holograms of parts of the body in the physical space around the viewer would be “extremely valuable,” the students noted, especially when studying abnormalities that are hard to see, due to their small size.

The team comprises John Brabender, of Leesburg, Virginia, a bioengineering senior; Alex Fabrizio, of Lynchburg, Virginia, an accounting and finance senior; Michelle Fultz, of Staunton, Virginia, a management senior; and Zachary Kemp, of Roanoke, Virginia, a neuroscience senior.

The team’s proposal for an app that would integrate use of the Microsoft HoloLens with rotational angiography won first place in the recent “Health Care AppJam,” sponsored by Avanade and Virginia Tech.

Aneurysms — balloon-like bulges caused by weakening of the artery wall — affect about 6 million people in the United States, 30,000 of whom experience a rupture each year, according to the students’ report.

Though 60 percent of those with a rupture survive, only 34 percent of them do not suffer “a permanent neurological deficit.” Preventing rupture is thus a primary goal.

Rotational angiographs — 3-D images built from a series of X-ray images — allow more of the smaller aneurysms to be depicted. Combining such images with holograms of the aneurysms would result in an even larger visualization experience that would allow increased learning about the body’s complex vascular system and more-personalized treatment options, the students’ proposal noted.

“Many patients have little to no medical knowledge, especially regarding complex surgical procedures," the proposal said. "Being able to put on a HoloLens and have your physician walk you through the exact pathway of surgery would be very valuable to patients and their families.”

The students noted that this combined visualization technology could also be used with electrocardiographs, for instance, for visualizing patient vital signs. 

The four students, who named their team “Holla Health,” met through various extracurricular activities. Serving as the group’s unofficial spokesperson, Fultz said she, Fabrizio, and Kemp had competed well together in the Norfolk Southern Case Competition earlier this year.

See more