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Using Big Data, sophisticated computer modeling, and 3D imaging to personalize surgery before ever entering the operating room
Modern medicine generates huge amounts of data for each patient, from vital signs and lab tests to imaging technologies like x-rays, MRIs and cat scans.
Larry Smarr is the exception who proves the rule.
For years, the physicist, computer scientist and founder of
Calit2 has meticulously monitored and documented almost every aspect of his physiological being, down to the microbial diversity of his colon and its output—all part of an effort to better understand and treat a chronic intestinal condition. He called it his
When Smarr eventually needed part of his colon removed, he pushed the concept of quantified self further: “quantified surgery.” With colleagues and his medical team, led by
Sonia Ramamoorthy, MD, he created a 3D model of his affected abdomen that Ramamoorthy could study and explore long before her first actual incision. The work was largely based upon Smarr’s abundant, existing medical data.
Smarr’s procedure was an experiment, but also perhaps a glimpse of the future. His quantified surgery was a success, minimizing potential complications in the operating room and speeding his recovery. He, Ramamoorthy and colleagues at UC San Diego are now trying to develop simpler, faster, cheaper ways to make quantified surgery a viable option for all patients.
Q&A with patient and doctor Technical Details Bios
Video: Look Twice, Cut Once
Podcast: Quantified Surgery - 3D models personalize procedures long before the first incision
Composite image of both Larry Smarr’s black-and-white MRI imaging with three-dimensional model of affected large intestine (green), major blood vessels (blue and red) and vertebrae (yellow). Images courtesy of Jurgen Schulze, UC San Diego.
Sonia Ramamoorthy, MD, chief, colon and rectal surgery, UC San Diego Health.
Jurgen Schulze, PhD, associate research scientist, Qualcomm Institute, UC San Diego, and Larry Smarr, PhD, director of Calit2, with 3D model of Smarr’s colon in background. Image courtesy of Kyle Dykes, UC San Diego
Surgeons oversee use of four-armed Davinci robot during Smarr’s colon resection procedure. Images courtesy of Jurgen Schulze, UC San Diego
Medical team discusses Smarr’s ongoing operation in front of primary viewing screen, which contains both live imagery and past visual medical data. A cameraman records the unprecedented operation. Image courtesy of Jurgen Schulze, UC San Diego
Sonia Ramamoorthy, MD, chief, colon and rectal surgery, with team during Smarr’s colon resection procedure in November 2016. Images courtesy of Jurgen Schulze, UC San Diego