BACKGROUND: A professor at Stanford University is applying his engineering expertise to take some of the guesswork out of predicting surgical outcomes by making a new computer model of the cardiovascular system. Charles Taylor spent 10 years taking detailed information gleaned from diagnostic imaging tools like CT scans and MRI to build his computing modeling program.
THE PROBLEM: People are unique on the inside as well as on the outside, and this can make it difficult for surgeons to predict how any given person will respond to surgery. Currently the only tools available are statistics and educated guesses.
HOW THE MODEL WORKS: The new model incorporates imaging data into a Web-based tool that includes 3D views and surgical sketchpads. Millions of complex equations involving how blood flows through the body and individual physiology are used to demonstrate what might happen under various "what if" scenarios. Taylor has also taken into account the flexibility of veins and arteries. The model is currently being tested by taking data before and after surgery and determining how well the model predicted what actually occurred. Taylor recently reported that in large-animal studies, the model can predict blood flow after an aortic graft within 10 percent.