RSNA: Researchers use video game technology to improve x-rays

CHICAGO—Researchers have found a new use for Microsoft video game technology that doesn’t involve hitting home runs, racing sports cars, or shooting aliens: measuring body part thickness and checking for motion and positioning immediately before capturing x-rays.

In a presentation made today at the 2015 RSNA annual meeting, Steven Don, MD, associate professor of radiology at Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, discussed the implications of his team’s feasibility study, which combined the Microsoft Kinect motion sensor technology with proprietary imaging software.

"Patients, technologists and radiologists want the best quality x-rays at the lowest dose possible without repeating images," Don said. "This technology is a tool to help achieve that goal. Patients will benefit from reduced radiation exposure and higher quality images to ensure diagnostic accuracy."

Don explained that using the Microsoft Kinect sensor can help address issues that regularly affect imaging results while helping potentially keeping pediatric patients more calm and relaxed.

"To optimize radiation exposure and image quality, x-ray technique should be set based on body-part thickness," Don said. "Use of traditional calipers is time-consuming, intrusive, and sometimes frightening to young children. Using Microsoft Kinect with this software, we can measure body-part thickness automatically without patient contact."

By searching for possible user mistakes, such as accidentally scanning the wrong body part, the technology acts as a fail-safe, the software also helps users limit unnecessary image acquisition and keep radiation doses in check.