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Bracco steps into virtual reality

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Milan-based Bracco, widely known for its contrast agents, has acquired an 80% stake in a company that develops software-based systems that support diagnosis and surgical planning. Volume Interactions was

Milan-based Bracco, widely known for its contrast agents, has acquired an 80% stake in a company that develops software-based systems that support diagnosis and surgical planning. Volume Interactions was founded in 2000 as a spin-off of Kent Ridge Digital Labs, a Singapore research institute focused on information technology. The investment by Bracco reflects the Italian company's evolving strategy of promoting integrated solutions for healthcare, according to Maurizio Denaro, vice president of the Bracco Group's R&D. The acquisition complements the company's line of contrast agents, which constitutes the Bracco Group's core business.

Bracco's involvement with Volume Interactions, publicized Feb. 20, marks the firm's entry into "utilization of the diagnostic image through its manipulation," Denaro said. Products created by Volume Interactions are designed to allow the surgeon to visualize images in 3D and to manipulate the area to be operated on using virtual reality, practicing the various phases of an operation prior to actual surgery. Denaro noted that the technology has already been used successfully in operations to separate conjoined twins. About 10 Volume Interactions' Dextroscopea systems are in use at research centers and international hospitals including the Max Planck Institute in Germany, the radiology department of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

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