An optical technique has been developed for mapping the size and shape of the thoracoabdominal wall and the change in its shape with breathing. A fixed pattern composed of stripes of light is projected on to both sides of the trunk. These stripes become distorted when viewed from in front and behind, forming contours over the trunk surface. The contours are photographed and then encoded digitally. The digital information can be used to compute automatically the volume of the trunk, the position of any point on its surface, and its cross sectional shape at any level. The technique has been tested on rigid objects (a globe, a cone, and two dummy torsos) that can be measured precisely. With this optical technique linear dimensions can be calculated to within 0.5 mm, cross sectional area to within 5%, and volume to within 1.6-3.7%. These results suggest that this non-invasive technique measures the shape and volume of complex three dimensional surfaces with sufficient accuracy to be tried in clinical practice.
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