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Neurosciences m3D Lab

What is Ochsner Health’s Neurosciences m3D lab, and what sets it apart?

We live in a three-dimensional, or 3D, world, and our brains are built to process 3D information. Unfortunately, imaging and other important medical information often appears in 2D, challenging patients’ abilities to fully understand their diagnoses. That’s where the Neurosciences m3D lab, or medical 3D lab, at Ochsner Medical Center - New Orleans comes in. Serving patients from Louisiana, Mississippi and beyond, the Neurosciences m3D lab uses leading-edge technology to create 3D models from patients’ 2D imaging, along with other tools for patient education.

The Neurosciences m3D lab brings together specialists in neuroscience, neurology, biomedical engineering and software development to collaborate with doctors on state-of-the-art solutions. Other health systems may have a neuroscience laboratory or research labs, but the Neurosciences m3D lab’s deep integration into patient care is what sets it apart. The lab’s team uses 3D printing, virtual reality and augmented reality to create personalized tools that enhance patients’ understanding of their medical conditions. Every day, our Neurosciences m3D lab helps bring greater understanding to medicine while pioneering its future.

What if you could hold a model of one of your arteries in your hand while a doctor points out an aneurysm in a 3D model of the same artery on a tablet screen? The Neurosciences m3D lab team can make it happen.

The Neurosciences m3D lab uses technology to create a wide range of solutions for many different medical conditions. When a surgeon needs to plan a complicated procedure to treat scoliosis, the lab team can create a model of the patient’s spine to use in presurgical planning. After the procedure, the team can make a model of the corrected spine so the surgeon could conduct a before-and-after comparison.

That’s just one example of how the Neurosciences m3D lab can affect patient care. The team can also create a virtual reality simulation to distract children during cast removals and hardware manipulations.

The Neurosciences m3D lab’s solutions benefit patients in a variety of ways, including:

  • Accuracy and safety of care. Using 3D tools can help doctors plan more precise treatments, including surgeries. That, in turn, can improve patient safety.
  • Decision-making. The ability to see the extent of a medical problem in a 3D model of your own anatomy can empower you to make important decisions about care, such as whether to go ahead with a procedure.
  • Education. Doctors can use tools from the Neurosciences m3D lab to help explain and demystify disease processes in ways that aren’t possible with 2D images or programs.

Patients aren’t the only ones who benefit from the solutions the Neurosciences m3D lab designs and creates. These tools also help seasoned doctors and the doctors of the future hone their skills. That translates to better patient care.

A lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, is a procedure neurologists perform to collect cerebrospinal fluid to help with diagnosing certain conditions. Training for this procedure is notoriously challenging. That’s why the Neurosciences m3D lab software developer created a program that allows medical students to overlay a hologram of the spine on a patient simulator in Ochsner’s Clinical Simulation and Patient Safety Center. The program allowed the students to practice the procedure freely without fear of failing in a patient-care scenario. In addition, experienced doctors use custom, patient-specific models from the Neurosciences m3D lab to practice complex neurovascular cases.

The Neurosciences m3D lab isn’t the only way Ochsner is using advanced technology to improve care for patients with neurological diseases. At Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center, neurosurgeons use two high-tech systems to perform complicated brain surgeries with pinpoint precision.

The first system, the BrightMatter Servo Solution, combines digital mapping and 3D imaging to improve surgeons’ view of and ability to navigate inside the brain. A GPS-like system helps guide the surgeon to the surgical target. The surgeon can control and adjust his or her view of the surgical field by tapping a foot pedal, which prompts a robotic arm to change the lighting and optics. That reduces surgery time, which is safer for patients. Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center was the first hospital in Louisiana to use the BrightMatter Servo Solution.

Neurosurgeons can use the BrightMatter Servo Solution in conjunction with a separate system called BrainPath. The BrainPath device allows surgeons to reach and remove tumors deep within the brain without damaging important structures along the way, all through a dime-sized incision in the skull.


No. Neuroscience is the lab’s home field, but the team’s work also encompasses orthopedics, organ transplantation, pain management and other medical specialties.

A neuroscientist is a researcher who studies the development, structure and function of the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and nerves. Some neuroscientists are also neurologists, doctors who treat nervous system diseases. Neuroscientists can choose from among a variety of branches of their field on which to focus. These include cognitive neuroscience, or the study of the brain processes and structures that underpin thought and mental abilities.

A biomedical engineer applies engineering skills and principles to help solve medical problems. Biomedical engineers may create medical devices, software or other tools to aid patient care.

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