Virtual endoscopy is a diagnostic technique in which a three-dimensional imaging technology (CT scan, MRI scan, ultrasound) is used to create a computer-generated representation of a specific patient's anatomy or organ, and then the virtual organ is “flown through,” giving the same visual impression and image as if the corresponding real organ had a video or fiberoptic endoscopic procedure performed. The potential is to provide a computer diagnosis to replace an endoscopic procedure, not only for conventional endoscopy such as bronchoscopy, colonoscopy, sinusoscopy, or hysteroscopy, but also for areas where traditional endoscopy is not possible, such as the inner ear, spleen, lymphatic tissues. With sophisticated signal processing and computational analysis, it may be possible in the future to perform a “numerical biopsy,” that is, make a tissue diagnosis based upon spectral or other information contained in the images.

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