An immersive virtual reality environment for diagnostic imaging
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Advancements in and adoption of consumer virtual reality are currently being propelled by numerous upcoming devices such as the Oculus Rift. Although applications are currently growing around the entertainment field, wide-spread adoption of virtual reality devices opens up the potential for other applications that may have been unfeasible with past implementations of virtual reality. A virtual reality environment may provide an equal or larger screen area than what is provided with the use of multiple conventional displays while remaining comparatively cheaper and more portable. A virtual reality application for the viewing of multiple image slices was designed using: the Oculus Rift head-mounted display, Unity, and 3D Slicer. Volumes loaded within 3D Slicer are sent to a Unity application that proceeds to render a scene for the Oculus Rift head-mounted display. Users may interact with the images adjusting windowing and leveling using a handheld gamepad controller. Multiple images may be brought closer to the user for detailed inspection. Application usage was demonstrated with the simultaneous visualization of concurrent slices of a serial CT scan of a patient with a lung nodule. Also demonstrated was the studying of multiple-sclerosis lesion evolution by visualization of a large time-series MRI dataset. Experiments for validating usage of the virtual reality system for differential diagnosis and remote collaboration were performed.