The three-year degree course in techniques of medical radiology, imaging and radiotherapy at the University of Udine trains future medical radiology technicians, health professionals entitled to carry out all operations that require the use of natural or artificial ionizing radiation, thermographic and ultrasonic energy and nuclear magnetic resonance. Students are sent to local public health facilities to carry out the compulsory internship, where they operate on real patients under the supervision of their assigned tutors.
Teachers required a safer, more readily available way to train future radiology technicians in the use of CT (Computed Tomography) scanners before the internship on real patients. The use of real CT scanners with training phantoms is not always possible due to the limited time availability of scanners for clinical use and it was also desired to reduce risks on real patients as well as flatten the otherwise steep learning curve required to use a real CT scanner, especially when used in a high stress situation, like the real clinical setting.
MOLO17 enabled the soon-to-be x-ray technologists to experience, in a safe virtual environment made with the Unity 3D engine, simulated CT examinations, including both a simulated CT scanner complete with its control software on the console screen, contrast liquid remote injector and a virtual patient with realistic interactions, dialogues, and the ability to use real CT DICOM image files to show actual results of real CT studies.
The system is customizable by the teachers assembling new exercise packages that can be created with self-provided DICOM images and a little knowledge of the JSON file format that is used to describe the examination, thus allowing them to personalize the experience as they see fit for their students.
Students are able to test their abilities safely on virtual patients, with conditions based on real clinical cases provided by Udine Teaching Hospital. They have the opportunity to simulate rare clinical cases many times over and they can start their internship with a solid knowledge of CT machinery usage, allowing them to focus on learning what is impossible to simulate on a computer: the relationship with real patients and the connected physical procedures on them, getting more experience from their internship, while granting the patients and the students a safer environment, in the spirit of patient-oriented healthcare principles.