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Battelle and The Methodist Hospital Team Up to Enhance Dynamic 3-D Visualization System

Posted on Feb 10, 2011

HOUSTON, TX, and COLUMBUS, OH., 10 February, 2011—Battelle is helping surgeons at The Methodist Hospital enhance and advance their cutting-edge visualization system called Plato’s Cave, which provides views inside patients before ever lifting a scalpel. Named for the famed philosopher’s allegory describing perceptions of reality, Plato’s Cave offers extraordinary 3-D views of the human body. Surgeons, with or without the use of special glasses and a video game controller, navigate through images of the interior of patients’ bodies. The images are derived from CT, MRI or any DICOM scans, allowing for a virtual pre-surgical “fly through.” Plato’s Cave has earned acclaim from surgeons, clinicians and even patients and families desiring to better understand complex surgical options.

The Battelle team will expand existing Plato’s Cave capabilities by developing new input tools, new display options and associated application software for advanced surgical visualization and planning.  Goals include expanding the capabilities directly into the Operating Room and addressing how surgeons can best interact and use visualization data during surgery.

“We are tremendously excited for the opportunity to collaborate with such a prestigious organization as The Methodist Hospital,” said Bill Dunlevy, Vice President of Medical Devices & Diagnostics, which is part of Battelle’s Health and Life Sciences Global Business. “Their system already allows surgeons tremendous new insights into pre-surgical diagnostics and planning. Battelle’s integrated, multidisciplinary approach to medical device development, our renowned science and technology experts, and our best-in-class facilities will help The Methodist Hospital take it to the next level.”

Dr. Brian Butler, Chairman of Radiation Oncology, Senior Member of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute and founder of Plato’s Cave, said they sought out Battelle because it is well-known for having outstanding technical capabilities.  “Battelle’s expertise will help us attain a higher level of technical focus, as well as significantly expand our system capabilities into new, cutting-edge areas. Advanced surgical planning and real-time access to 3-D visualization images greatly benefit clinical outcomes.”

Butler said the current technology enables him to combine data from CT, MRI and PET scans and channel them into a single environment to generate clear, comprehensive patient images. Now, they want to make these images even more useful to surgeons.

Plato’s Cave was designed and implemented by Paul E. Sovelius Jr., a scientific computing and visualization expert at The Methodist Hospital, in collaboration with a number of commercial partners.

“We have many exciting clinical opportunities ahead of us to leverage the full capabilities of Plato’s Cave, and I’m really looking forward to working with the Battelle team to help develop our next-generation ‘tool kit,’” Sovelius said. “Our vision is to continue to integrate new devices and technologies into Plato’s Cave to improve advanced surgical planning for the benefit of our patients. Helping our patients is what really motivates me.”

Video links: See the technology in action at

About Battelle

As the world’s largest independent research and development organization, Battelle provides innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing needs through its four global businesses:  Laboratory Management; National Security; Health and Life Sciences; and Energy, Environment and Material Sciences. It advances scientific discovery and application by conducting $6.2 billion in global R&D annually through contract research, laboratory management and technology commercialization. 

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle oversees 22,000 employees in more than 130 locations worldwide, including seven national laboratories for which Battelle has a significant management role on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Battelle also is one of the nation’s leading charitable trusts focusing on societal and economic impact and actively supporting and promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

About The Methodist Hospital

The Methodist Hospital System is a non-profit organization comprised of a major academic medical center, four community hospitals, a research institute and a comprehensive residency program. Methodist provides state of the art medical care, preventive and primary care, traditional hospital services and translational research. The System’s flagship, The Methodist Hospital, was home of the late heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey and is the site of numerous medical breakthroughs, such as the world’s first multiple-organ transplant in the 1960s, gene therapy for prostate cancer, and the first islet cell transplants in Texas.

A legacy of medical milestones has attracted patients from around the world to TMH for more than 90 years.
Methodist is primarily affiliated with Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian, two of the nation’s leading centers for clinical care, medical education and research.

Methodist consistently is named among the country’s top hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. The System has been named as one of FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the past six years, and is currently ranked No. 19.

Methodist is committed to providing the finest spiritual care coupled with healing skill, compassion, and respect for human dignity, it also believes that sound educational programs enhance the quality of patient care.

Media Contacts

For more information contact Katy Delaney at (614) 424-7208 or, or T.R. Massey at (614) 424-5544 or

The Methodist Hospital Media Contact: Erin Fairchild at (832) 667-5811,


Media Contacts

Katy Delaney
Director, Media Relations
Office: 1.614.424.7208

T.R. Massey

Senior Media Specialist
Office: 1.614.424.5544