Pilot helmets give surgeons new image

May 19, 1995

Surgeons of the future will wear fighter pilot-style helmets so that they can view both a patient and their radiological image at the same time, a leading radiologist has predicted. The image will be real-time, and as the surgeons move the image will also move, according to Ian Isherwood, emeritus professor at Manchester University.

Speaking at a meeting at the Royal Society in London, to highlight radiation science on the centenary of the discovery of X-rays, Professor Isherwood said that the necessary technology had already been developed by the military and just needed to be transferred into medicine.

He said that the helmet would show an image produced by nuclear magnetic radiation (NMR), which is widely used in medicine because it can produce pictures of soft tissue. NMR uses magnetism rather than X-rays to produce the image, so surgeons should be able to move about safely within its field.

This safety has been combined with a breakthrough by British physicist Sir Peter Mansfield, of Nottingham University, who has found a way of taking images every few milliseconds and making them available almost immediately, giving in effect a moving, real-time picture. This means that surgeons can operate on patients while they are in the NMR machine. There are now five NMR machines in the world with a special space built into them in which a surgeon can operate.

Now technology is being developed so that surgeons can control the depth at which the image is being taken as they move their instuments during an operation: "You then have an image of what is being seen with the naked eye," said Professor Isherwood. But the image is on a TV screen. "A further step is needed because you have to keep lifting your head in order to go from one to the other." The answer - pilot helmets - lies in technology that is common in the military, he said.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Research Associate - Parlours of Wonder UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL (MAIN OFFICE)
Administrative Assistant UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL (MAIN OFFICE)
Teaching Fellow in Primary Care UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL (MAIN OFFICE)

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman

Nosey man outside window

Head of UK admissions service Mary Curnock Cook addresses concerns that universities might ‘not hear a word’ from applicants