3D Medical Visualization

11 April, 2016

Nowadays 3D design/animation is acquiring a bigger presence in other sectors apart from the conventional ones. In addition to CGI, architecture, urban design, or engineering, which have always had their foot in it, now you can find 3D modelling in a wider range of subjects. One of these is the field of 3D medical visualization, where computers are used to create 3D models right out of medical imaging data sets, relying heavily on the recent advances in processing power. Despite being a relatively novel practice, these techniques have revolutionized modern medicine, as much of it comes from the imagery derived from magnetic resonance imaging scanners as well as computed tomography (CT) scanners, making 3D images out of 2D slices (almost all surgery and cancer treatments in the developed world rely on it).[1] Even Harvard University has a BioVision department where they explore new ways of visualizing processes and molecules through animation.

An example of software that allows for such imagery is 3D-DOCTOR, developed by ABL Software India. This analysis software is capable of extracting information from image files and create 3D surface models from 2D cross-section images in real time. It is currently being used in leading hospitals, medical schools and research organizations around the globe. You can watch a demo video here (the video showcases how to generate such models from a CT scan through volume rendering and then export it into an STL file). The following are examples from their website’s image gallery:

Summus Render

3D model created out of an MRI scan (skin and brain tumor) through surface rendering – ©ABL Software India

Summus Render

3D rendering out of microscopy imagery –  ©ABL Software India

If you want to see other examples of 3D medical visualization, in this case in the form of animation, you can visit the TresMedicalAnimation YouTube channel. Such sequences have been developed by the Tres Media Group, a medical scientific visualization studio who creates action animations for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Here are some snapshots:

Summus Render

3D artery animation  –  ©TresMedicalAnimation

Summus Render

3D stent visualization  –   ©TresMedicalAnimation

Other tool worth looking into is BodyViz, a virtual reality (VR) visualization software that creates 3D MRI/CT for anatomy education.

[1] MIT Technology Review. “The Future of Medical Visualisation” – https://www.technologyreview.com/s/428134/the-future-of-medical-visualisation/ – June 8, 2015 (accessed on February 16, 2016).