Wound Therapy Middle Earth Style

23. November 2007

The movies just make you fat and lazy? Fiddlesticks! Ever since Frodo wandered from the Shire to Mordor across the movie screens, physicians get clear a whole lot better with the wound of their patients. The trick is done with a laser scanner - the very same that brought nasty Gollum to life.

“My precious, Gollum wants his precious, it's mine, mine alone” – Nobody whowatched the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, will ever forget the fascinatinglyreal images of the animated figures in this epic. The ex-Hobbit Gollum was justone of them. The trolls with their nasty teeth deeply impressed as well. Eversince, 3D animations are just not the same. But one thing you would have notexpected: Gollum & Co. are mixing up the medical business now.

By lasera wax ball turns into a horrible monster

As a matterof fact, at least one of the technologies used in the animation studios ofPeter Jackson stand physicians in good stead: as a handy digital scanner forwound assessment.

Only recentlythe admission board FDA in the USA has granted a premarket clearance for thedevice called Silhouette Mobile. The ISO certification more relevant for Europehas been granted already. But one thing after the other. When Peter Jackson hadthe famous pictures of the New Zealand landscapes shot for “Lord of the Rings”,a company in the neighbourhood called Applied Research Associates caught hisattention. The company trades officially under its name by using the logogram”ARANZ ” on the New Zealand license plate “NZ”. ARANZ has developed a mobilelaser scanner which later was made a market mature product by Polhemus: the PolhemusFastSCAN. This tool looks like a mixture between a telescope and a squirt gunand is used to rapidly digitalize three-dimensional objects. And for the icingon this technology “cake” – other than in traditional digital shots, it recordssurface properties of the original through its laser technology. That resultsin considerably more precise animations.

Thistechnology convinced the trick designers of WETA as well, the company realizingthe animations for “Lord of the Rings”: Thanks to laser technology, the waxmodels which were the basis for the mythical creatures of the film weredigitally reconstructed in a very short time and from all imaginable ankleswith a precision unknown until then.

A lookinto the depths of the wounds

And justwhat exactly does all that have to do with medicine? Quite a bit. The parentcompany ARANZ has further developed the technology as well – not for theanimation industry but as a medical device with the name Silhouette Mobile .Particularly for this medical laser gun they founded the daughter company ARANZMedical. The engineers of ARANZ Medical made the device even smaller and handierand finally linked it up with a pocket computer with digital camera – and themobile wound recording instrument was born. It is a device not just providingpicture like a boring digital camera, but enabling to make quantitativemeasurings of for example the depth of the wound and of the skin texture.Physicians are delighted: “The device enables a highly efficient, fast andprecise wound documentation”, says for example Dr. Michael Moore, President ofthe Wound Research Center in Dunmore PA/USA. “The results are reproducible. Andbecause the device is portable it is great for a wound hospital or even forhouse calls”. It goes without saying that a mobile digital device with thefeature to quantify wounds literally cries for telemedical applications. Bynow, ARANZ has put up the Silhouette Mobile at numerous internationalconventions for discussion. And in the US the device can be purchased. And whatabout us Europeans? Well, we Europeans can get a glance at it at the MEDICA inDusseldorf where ARANZ has a booth in hall 17 booth A58. No Gollum though.

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