New 3D Color X-Rays Give Unprecedented Look into Human Bodies

Attention folks who enjoy the educationally macabre: Engineers in Christchurch, New Zealand have recently developed an advanced type of 3D color x-ray machine, and it delivers graphical results so detailed you could almost be fooled into thinking you’re at a Body Worlds exhibit. And while the tech’s obviously not perfected yet, one can imagine how this could eventually be a game changer in terms of how we visualize what’s gone wrong inside of the ol’ corpora.

In the clip above, Tom Scott, a YouTuber and programmer who “[bodges] things together using lines of code,” visits the Mars Bioimaging company in Christchurch. The team — led by the father-son duo of professors Phil and Anthony Butler — shows off its latest MARS scanners, which are capable of creating color 3D images of the inside of the body based off of x-ray data.

The MARS scanners aren’t wholly revolutionary: 3D constructions of CT scans are already widely available, and they can deliver a 360-degree view of say, a person’s skeleton, with no problems. The MARS scanners, however, are not only able to reconstruct x-ray scans in three dimensions, but also able to “paint” the different chemical components of what’s been scanned. In the video below, for example, we have a 360-degree 3D view of an ankle that’s colored in three different materials: lipids as beige/yellow, water as red, and calcium as white/gray.

MARS scanners are able to color the different materials in a given scan by collecting more data than is normal for 3D CT scans. While CT scans measure the number of x-rays that pass through a given section of whatever is being scanned, and thusly an accurate estimation of density, they don’t take into account the wavelength of the x-rays. The MARS scanners, on the other hand, do pick up on varying x-ray wavelengths and then apply corresponding colors to them. This way, bone could be colored like bone and blood vessels like blood vessels.

A 3D color x-ray of a mouse. Mars Bioimaging

According to the Mars Bioimaging team, this technology should enable medical professionals to better identify what’s gone wrong in the human body when there’s a health issue. For example, while a CT scanner could tell doctors there’s a blockage somewhere in an artery, the MARS scanner could tell you what kind of material makes up said blockage by deciphering and then coloring the wavelength of x-ray radiation that passes through it. This ability will apparently make MARS scanners even better at detecting cancer than normal CT scans, which is obviously a — very transparent — step in the right direction.

What do you think of these 3D color x-rays? Are you excited to see what’s going on in your body in more depth? Give us a full 360-degree scan of your opinion in the comments!

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