Imaging technology has always been integral to the content of MMVR. At every conference, we have heard from researchers who assess new methods for visualizing and comparing the complex and transient relationships between anatomical structures, biological processes, and surgical therapies.
Ten years ago, the concept of full-body scanning was first presented at MMVR. This technology is now mainstream and the recent proliferation of scanning centers symbolizes expectation that medical science will enable us to take full control of our health destiny. Body scanning, an elective procedure, has become controversial. Data can be misleading and interpretation subjective; self-referring patients may be unaware of the technology's limitations. However, the possibility of looking deeply into one's own body and preemptively correcting health problems is undeniably attractive. Only cosmetic surgery seems to inspire the same willingness to pay out-of-pocket.
And it doesn't matter whether scanning centers prove to be a cure-all or a fad, because imaging has already transformed medical diagnosis and care. This reality was acknowledged when the 2003 Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine was awarded to Dr. Paul Lauterbur and Sir Peter Mansfield for their research on MRI. Today, physicians routinely order patient scans to assist diagnosis and to monitor post-therapy progress. Manufacturers improve imaging devices constantly, providing clinicians with ever greater speed and resolution. Imaging is among the most vital tools for creating a future of better health.
Surgical simulation has become another key aspect of the MMVR curriculum. Enabled by more highly refined haptic and tissue modeling techniques, emerging simulator technologies allow surgeons to attempt and repeat unfamiliar procedures in a manner not practical on living patients. “Practice makes perfect” is as valid for surgeons as for athletes and musicians. In time, the safety and efficiency of surgical simulators means they will be accepted into, and will no doubt enhance, traditional surgical education. The end result will be better-trained surgeons and improved surgical outcomes.
In the preface of the 4th MMVR Proceedings (1996) we wrote, “This is the possibility and the challenge: the transformation of medicine through communication.” MMVR is about communication. People talk and listen, agree and disagree. The conference is a forum of ideas and experience, vibrant with the exchange of information. At MMVR, people who are passionate about their work initiate and strengthen connections with the like-minded. They learn what their colleagues are doing, assessing failure as well as success. All of this is done with the ultimate goal of transforming physicians' capability to improve patient health.
As conferences organizers, we find it exciting that MMVR presenters are often young students. This enhances the exploratory nature of the conference, the vitality of the forum. It is critical for science that junior researchers are allowed to present fresh but as yet untested ideas. It is also imperative that they receive criticism and guidance from those who are more experienced.
We want MMVR to stimulate regular breakthroughs in imagination, to inspire the next tools for medical education, diagnosis, and care. We see technology as the door to better health—a door wide open to those who can approach problems creatively and with vision that is guided by purposeful communication with peers.
We thank all MMVR participants for being part of this conference's success. And we give special thanks to those researchers whose work is published here, to share with all