Jan. 13 - A combination of scanning technologies developed in Brazil, is giving doctors and expectant parents the opportunity to examine their unborn babies in unprecedented detail, inside and out. The system can not only provide a three-dimensional tour through internal organs where abnormalities might exist, it can also produce a physical model of an unborn child for parents with impaired vision. Tara Cleary reports.
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PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL
Fabiane Fernando is "seeing" her unborn child for the first time.
She and her husband Luis are visually impaired, but new 3D scanning technology has turned a virtual scan of the developing child into an anatomically accurate model. The application of computer software on conventional MRI images, produces a picture of the unborn child in unprecedented detail, both inside and out.
SOUNDBITE: FABIANE FERNANDO - VISUALLY IMPAIRED PREGNANT PATIENT, SAYING:
"It's like I'm now able to see what the scan is showing, just like any normal person would."
Called Human 3D Technology by its Brazilian inventors, the scanning technique was originally developed for educational purposes and as a tool for medical practitioners.
The detailed visual information detects abnormalities otherwise unseen with an ultrasound.
Designer Jorge Lopes explains.
SOUNDBITE: JORGE LOPES, DESIGNER OF HUMAN 3D TECHNOLOGY, SAYING:
"I wanted to come up with something that was unheard of and would provide some kind of support to the field of fetal medicine. We've made significant scientific strides in that area, providing an important contribution to medicine, which is pretty cool."
Fernando's doctor, Heron Werner, first performs a conventional ultrasound scan.
The second part of the procedure takes place in Lopes' studio.
The designer processes the scans with a computer program which assembles an electronic 3D model of the fetus.
The model can then be printed as a life-size, three-dimensional replica.
SOUNDBITE: DR. HERON WERNER, FERNANDO'S PRE-NATAL DOCTOR AND HUMAN 3D TECHNOLOGY CO-DEVELOPER, SAYING:
"The technique wasn't initially focused on the visually impaired, but as we realized we could replicate the fetus in a way that was very close to real life, we thought it could be beneficial to blind people. But our original goal when we created this technology was for academic research purposes."
Now, the scanning technique is finding fans elsewhere. For the Fernandos and other families, the benefits are clear to see.
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