3D imaging software has made it possible to take multiplf images and stack them into a digital model. Using the parameters of computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or positron emission tomography (PET) scans (water density / traces of radiation) designers can isolate organs, structures and even tumors. The result is a CAD model which can be used by professionals for personalized designs and to take measurements of the body.
Medical imaging is used to facilitate visualization of diseases, organs and other parts of the human (or animal) body. Traditionally, scans consist in sets of 2 dimensional planes that help physicians understand whatever is inside the body. It is not possible to obtain depth in a 2-dimensional image. Therefore, a set of pictures are made following a straight line (axis). Scans can use sound frequencies (Ultrasound), radiation (CT) or magnetism (MRI) and depending on that visualize bone structures, tissues, organs, tumors, etc.
3D imaging software has made it possible to take this group of images and stack them into a digital model. Using the parameters of CT, MRI or PET scans (water density / traces of radiation) designers can isolate organs, structures and even tumors. The result is a CAD model which can be used by professionals for personalized designs and to take measurements of the body.
In addition to 3D scans, some devices can stack together 3D images taken in a short period of time. The outcome is a digital animation where the viewer can see how the scanned object changes over a certain period of time. Examples of the use of these so called 4D scans in a medical context are 4D ultrasounds during a pregnancy check-up or the visualization of specific organ functions (e.g. blood oxygenation and pump).
This is a major improvement compared to the plane image scanning and it generates new areas of opportunities where the medical and design community can work together to help patients in a better way.
- Having 3D and 4D models can be a tool for medical students to get meaningful training before a real practice. This is especially interesting when paired up with virtual reality environments and interactions. It also reduces the need of bodies for dissection.
- Scans can be 3D printed in order to prepare doctors, before a long invasive surgery.
- Designers can work with specific measurements of a specific user / set of users (e.g. medical applications for newborn babies).
- 3D models of people involved with accidents or deformations can be used to print suitable prosthetics for the healing process. In addition to this, the research of new materials (e.g. biomaterials) is used to print functional organs for patients in need of a transplant.
- Insitum scans with the actual patients has been used as a first step to print tissue over wounds and regenerate skin.
- Create data sets and libraries for further research and development in the fields of medicine and design. With the democratization of 3D printing, developing countries and enthusiasts can get involved with the design of products like casts and prosthetics.
These 3D processes that visualize the inside of the human body are a considerable upgrade from the flat 2-dimensional images and help diminish possible interference since there is less need of interpretation from the viewer. And of course, are better than the old procedures depicted in Vermeer’s “anatomy lesson” where physicians opened bodies to understand what was beneath the skin. But most importantly, the data generated can contribute to development of more personalized products and medical solutions.