Virtual rendering of coronavirus patient’s lungs shows extensive damage the virus can cause

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJLA/CNN) - A doctor at George Washington University Hospital wants everyone to know exactly how COVID-19 can damage your lungs.

The yellow shows the infection in the coronavirus patient's lungs. (Source: George Washington University Hospital/CNN)

He created a virtual rendering of lungs from an actual patient being treated at the hospital, and he thinks it has a powerful message for the public.

“So we can see it front to back, side to side...” said Dr. Keith Mortman,chief of thoracic surgery. “This patient is a gentleman in his late 50s, who initially had a fever and a non-productive cough like many other people. Respiratory symptoms progressed quite rapidly, to the point where he did need to be intubated and put on the ventilator."

A virtual reality, 360-degree rendering, shows exactly what the virus does to the human body.

“So what you’re seeing in the video, essentially the blue part is the more normal lung, but anything you’re seeing yellow is lung that’s being destroyed by the virus,” Mortman said.

In partnership with a company called Surgical Theater, he used a coronavirus patient’s CAT scan to create an interactive model.

“It’s quite alarming to see, in all honesty, because unlike your garden-variety pneumonia that might affect only one small part of the lung or unlike the common flu, what you’re seeing in this video is really the widespread, diffuse damage to the lung.”

Mortman’s hope is that the technology can help medical professionals on the front lines, but he also wants members of the public to see these images for themselves.

This perspective should open everyone’s eyes to the dangers of COVID-19, he said.

“I really want them to be able to see this and to really understand the damage that’s being done to the lungs, the severity of the disease that this is causing, so perhaps, maybe they think twice before having a house party or going outside to large groups,” Mortman said.

He said COVID-19 is a community problem, and it’s going to take a community effort to solve it.

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