In my last post, I admitted that I had trouble finding new areas where computational fluid dynamics (CFD) could be used. Well, I just found one: saving lives! An article in the latest issue of ANSYS Advantage magazine titled A New System for Surgery describes how CFD is used to help conduct virtual surgery for newborns with congenital heart defects. In short, CFD is used to study the effects of different surgical options so doctors can take the best approach. It is very exciting to see that the technology we all employ can potentially save lives.
But something else caught my attention, something extremely surprising and exciting. In the same way that each person has individual facial features, fingerprints, etc., everyone has unique heart, artery and vein topologies. As a consequence, researchers who perform surgical evaluations using CFD have to rely on patient-specific information. In this case, they use patient-specific magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) information to model the patient’s system. Imagine that a malformation is found in a newborn: Information on his or her specific morphology is then gathered and fed to a simulation that includes CFD. Many simulations are performed to determine the best surgery strategy, and then the surgery is performed.
This is truly impressive. This proves that fluid simulations can be customized (in this case to the patient) and allow for optimization (determining the best surgery strategy with the help of fluid simulation).
My healthcare industry colleague, Thierry Marchal, recently discussed this application as an example in a recent post called Virtually Testing Robust Systems: Utopia or Reality?
So I am happy to say that CFD is helping save lives. What do you think? Is my conclusion too strong? Or do you have similar examples?