Singular Health’s visualisation products are all underpinned by the proprietary Volumetric Rendering Platform (VRP) which renders 2D slice-based data, typically in a DICOM (.dcm) or NiFTI (.nii) format in addition to certain geological data. In development since 2017, the platform generates interactive volume renders in both 3D and VR in less than 90 seconds and provides a core repository allowing for modular functionality to be added.
Designed from the ground up to minimise reliance on external libraries and enable in-situ rendering (meaning that confidential patient imaging can be rendered within hospital/clinic walls), the Volumetric Rendering Platform is optimised for loading speed for use in our educational and medical applications. The platform’s core conversion & rendering code has been optimised in 2020 to operate on post-2018 iPhones and Androids, using only the onboard graphics processing power to generate interactive 3D renders.
Despite the obvious focus on the medical education and surgical planning applications developed by Singular Health, VRP has also been shown to work across a broad range of applications with the ability to render stacks of 2D images into 3D renders and render multiple ‘slices’ of seismic data used in geological exploration.
3D/VR Volume Rendering is not a new concept and yet VRP has solved a number of the issues that are typically manually handled in order to create a system that loads over 95% of all DICOM files and requires no more user input that clicking on your desired .DCM series.
In order to do this, VRP handles the following processes;
Filtering the input file metadata to extract relevant spatial information such as pixel spacing, slice thickness and much more. Almost all DICOM files have their own discrete differences in meta-data formatting and VRP has inbuilt filters and redundant processes to handle discrepancies in the formatting and load files without manual editing of the file.
Auto-conversion to NiFTi file format; in circumstances where patient confidentiality is paramount and scans must be anonymised (i.e. for presentations or use outside of the clinic/hospital), the program can convert and export .dcm files to .nii format. This also assists in rendering difficult files and acts as a redundant conversion process to ensure that a higher percentage of DICOM files can be accurately rendered in 3D/Virtual Reality.
Volume Rendering using the VRP code base doesn’t just render the surface mesh or static data, it incorporates thresholding to occlude certain information which in turn highlights regions of interest. This also extends to negative spaces, meaning that ‘empty’ spaces such as the airways and lungs can be immersively examined ‘from the inside-out’ in virtual reality.
Due to the extraction of relevant data such as pixel spacing and conversion of Field of View and Slice Thickness dimensions into the volume, VRP permits 3-dimensional slicing to focus the rendered volume on a particular sub-plot of the 3D space.
Finally, 2020 has seen a major update to the VRP, with the ability to render .STL files, .OBJ files and multiple DICOMs at same time (VOI’s) leading to the ability to visualise and manipulate segmented scans and also examine the interaction of foreign objects saved as .STL files (such as surgical screws, plates and implants) and the underlying anatomical structures.