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The OSA Image Diagnosis Platform Wins the Award for Outstanding Contributions in Science and Technology

2009/08/01

The National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL) recently began presenting the “NARL Award for Outstanding Contributions in Science and Technology” in order to give reorganization to researchers who have made great contributions to society as well as to improve national research and development capability. The individual awards are named after very tall well-known Taiwanese mountains, thus, symbolizing the researchers’ unrelenting effort and spirit in conquering “mountains of challenges” and striving for “ever higher achievements.”

During the second year the awards were given out, the NCHC’s Open Source Software Development team won first place in the Technological Development category, the Yushan Mountain Award, for its DRBL/Clonezilla software. The DRBL/Clonezilla software also won the Executive Yuan’s “Award for Outstanding Contributions in Science and Technology” that same year. In 2009, the NCHC again won the award when it took home the second place trophy (i.e. the Snow Mountain Award) in the Technological Development category for its “Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Image Diagnosis Platform.” The following outlines the details of the project:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Image Diagnosis Platform

The OSA Image Diagnosis Platform utilizes medical images and high-speed computational fluid mechanics (CFD) to provide doctors with a new diagnosric tool that helps them quickly diagnose OSA patients. This new platform can be used as a substitute for traditional OSA diagnostic methods that require a long sleep-over at a sleep clinic. With this new method, the patient need only complete the computed tomography (CT) once in order to obtain the necessary medical images. Also, there is no need for a polysomnography.

After constructing a model of the patent’s upper respiratory tract, the physician can calculate the narrow rate and/or gauge pressure differences using a numerical simulation of the patient’s breathing flow field. By comparing this information with AHI-narrow rates and/or pressure difference-narrow rate relation curve, it can quickly be determined whether or not the patient suffers from OSA. This new diagnostic method greatly reduces the burden and medical costs normally borne by the patient. It also significantly shortens the time required for diagnosis from the normal 2~3 days to just a few hours.

This platform integrates specialized technologies including medical imaging, numerical simulation of fluid mechanics, and computer graphics. It also simplifies the operations of all of it’s major functions so that no special training is required to use it. With this platform, a diagnose can be made using only the medical images it produces alone, therefore, is can be easily be used in the hospital setting.

Research Achievements and Contributions

The OSA Image Diagnosis Platform can quickly diagnose the severity of the patient’s OSA, assist physicians in determining the difference in the patient before and after surgery, and offer a quantitative assessment of improvement after clinical surgery. In October 2008, this platform was transfered to Chang Gung Hospital for testing. On December 3, 2008, a press release was hosted by the NARL to launch this new platform. To date, Chang Gung Hospital has used the platform to examine and assess 27 OSA patients.

During the development of this platform, the team, together with doctors from Chang Gung Hospital, published a paper entitled “Computational Fluid Dynamic Study on Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome, Treated with Maxillomandibular Advancement” (The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, Volume 20, Number 2, March 2009, pp426-430 (SCI)). It was published in the official journal of the International Society of Craniofacial Surgery which specializes in clinical and basic research papers on craniofacial dysmorphism and surgery. The journal publishes only papers pertaining to craniofacial surgery, not single case reports, thus, it is regarded as a leading and authoritative journal in the field.

The paper has already attracted the attention of Alvaro A. Figueroa (DDS, MS, Co-Director Rush Craniofacial Center, Chicago) who expressed his intention to cooperate with us. At present, we can simulate surgical cases from vertex to maxilla and forward, including the respiratory tracts of 20 patients before and after surgery. We also aim to conduct global cooperation and promotion of this platform.

The NCHC medical computation team has developed applications of image diagnosis for cranial repairs and obstructive sleep apnea and, going forward, will continue to develop medical computation virtual surgical platforms. Additionally, other applications are under development such as a strength calculation simulation for the pins used in cranial reconstructive surgery (a cooperation with Chang Gung Hospital), a study on the characteristics of respiratory sound (also a cooperation with Chang Gung Hospital), pre-operative assessment of myringoplasty and dispersion drug therapy for the inner ear (a cooperation with Tzu Chi General Hospital), and orthodontic craniofacial pattern assessment (a cooperation with Taiwan University Hospital). These projects will allow the medical field to benefit from the NCHC’s computational force and resources and to further benefit all mankind.

For more information, please e-mail lclee@nchc.org.tw

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