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Developments to Watch
SOFTWARE THAT HELPS ULTRASOUND PAINT A CLEARER PICTURE
Women in Saskatoon, Sask., are getting a better chance at conception with the help of computer-visualization software. Ultrasound images of a woman's ovaries are hard to read because they present a grainy, two-dimensional image of the egg-producing follicles. Roger A. Pierson, director of the reproductive-biology research unit at the University of Saskatchewan, converts those two-dimensional images into easy-to-understand three-dimensional ones with the help of software from Houston-based Visual Numerics Inc. The lights and darks that represent peaks and valleys are converted into a graphical image resembling a mountain range.
Knowing the condition of a woman's follicles allows Pierson to determine how much medicine is needed to stimulate them to produce eggs. A doctor who doesn't know the follicles' condition might underdose to avoid accidentally overstimulating healthy follicles, resulting in dangerous enlargement of the ovaries. Now, Pierson is experimenting with using the visualization software to examine ovarian cysts and tumors to tell whether they are malignant.EDITED BY PETER COY