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UT faculty improving surgical outcomes for children, cancer patients
Date:7/13/2011

Faculty and students at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are developing ways for cancer patients and children born with facial deformities to make more informed decisions about which reconstructive surgeries would be most aesthetically pleasing and practical based on their individual body types and personal preferences.

The interdisciplinary research, which includes biomedical engineering Professor Mia K. Markey and aerospace engineering Professor K. Ravi-Chandar, pairs faculty and students with doctors and patients at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.

Researchers at both medical centers are using novel 3D surface imaging technology and algorithms to address one of the most difficult questions for cancer patients and children facing reconstructive surgery: What procedure is right for me?

"With breast cancer patients, they are usually candidates for more than one kind of reconstructive surgery and the only reason to choose one over another is the patient's own preference," Markey said. "So that patient may be able to understand differences in costs or how long one procedure will require her to be in the hospital, but in terms of understanding how it will change her appearance, she wouldn't know a reason to pick one procedure over the other."

Options based off of patients' preferences

But Markey, along with a team of surgeons, doctors and psychologists at MD Anderson, aims to change that. The researchers are in the midst of several research projects funded by the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health to develop technology for quantifying surgical outcomes and understanding patients' perceptions of changes in their appearance.

Traditionally, the area of a patient's body that will be reconstructed is measured by doctors with measuring tape. But it's hard to know upfront which me
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Contact: Melissa Mixon
melissa.mixon@austin.utexas.edu
512-471-2129
University of Texas at Austin
Source:Eurekalert

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