Software finds pain zones in human body


Written on Monday, November 27, 2006 by Gemini

Will Help Classify Agony And Its Intensity

Researchers have developed a new 3D tool to help patients explain where they are suffering pain, it was announced on Friday. The computer program, developed by experts at Brunel University, shows a rotating model, which allows patients to describe their pain and its intensity.

Doctors can collect information on the patient’s experience of pain and the way pain travels around the body. It also allows people to highlight their type of pain—such as stinging, burning, pins and needles or a numb feeling — using colour-coded markers. Doctors can use the zoom, rotate and drag functions over the 3D model and the image can be saved for later reference.

The researchers, who believe they have developed a world first, created the tool after realising doctors were having to rely on 2D pain drawings. George Ghinea, senior lecturer at Brunel University, said: “Our research identified that a more accurate method for pain visualisation was needed in order for patients to describe and record the pain that they were experiencing and for physicians to track and better understand patient pain ‘journeys’.”

“To this end, we have developed the world’s first 3D multimedia pain visualisation software that allows patients and physicians to identify and monitor pain experiences.” The Hillingdon Independent Wheelchair User Group, in London, has tested the model for experience of back pain. Though the researchers are now hoping to attract commercial interest in the model for widespread use in hospitals, it was mainly developed by them to help register how a person’s pain changed during the day, especially after medication was taken.

Patients will use a standard personal digital assistants (PDA), to log where pain is felt on a 3D body image. The PDA will store the data and future entries can be added so that doctors can see the changing of a patient’s condition.


Dr. Google can solve 60% medical cases

Net giant Google has added another string to its bow—helping doctors diagnose illnesses, according to a study. Researchers found almost 60% difficult cases can be solved by using the world wide web as a diagnostic aid. Doctors fight disease by carrying about two million facts in their heads but with medical knowledge expanding, this may not be enough.

Misdiagnosis is still a common occurrence in the medical profession despite all the tools available such as the blood tests and state of the art scanning equipment. Studies of autopsies have shown doctors misdiagnose fatal illnesses 20% of the time. So millions of patients are being treated for the wrong disease. And the more astonishing fact may be that the rate has not really changed since the 1930s.

So a team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane identified 26 difficult diagnostic cases published in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, including obscure conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

They selected three to five search terms from each case and did a Google search while blind to the correct diagnoses. Google gives users quick access to more than three billion medical articles. The researchers then selected and recorded the three diagnoses that were ranked most prominently and appeared to fit the symptoms and signs, and compared the results with the correct diagnoses as published in the journal.

Google searches found the correct diagnosis in 15 (58%) of cases. Hangwi Tang, who led the study, said: “Doctors adept at using the Net use Google to help them diagnose difficult cases.”

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