High-Res Human Skeleton

Bones!: 3D Imaging Enables More Precise Medical Illustrations

Projects - Human Skeleton

Earlier this year, David Rini, a professor at Johns Hopkins University's Department of Art as Applied to Medicine, came to Direct Dimensions with a great project. Mr. Rini's specialty is medical illustration, and his much sought-after work has appeared in over 80 scientific journals and medical textbooks, and has been on display at prestigious institutions such as the University of Michigan's Natural Science Museum, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, and the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

Mr. Rini brought with him a real full size human skeleton as well as other single human bones. He wanted to explore the use of 3D imaging for his medical illustrations to provide a higher level of realism and accuracy. With the most cutting-edge 3D technologies, Direct Dimensions was up to the task of providing him with what is known as dimensionally-precise “reference models” for use in his work.

The DDI technicians immediately demonstrated the process by scanning a fibula, tibia, and a juvenile femur. They processed the raw data into watertight 3D polygon models for use within Rini’s illustration software. The process worked so well that the team was asked to scan the full skeleton –with emphasis on the skull, ribs, spine, and pelvic bone – challenging areas for traditional illustration.

In order to get the precise detail that would be necessary for Mr. Rini to create his illustrations, DDI designers Peter Kennedy and Jon Wood used a combination of the Faro Arm and the Kreon Zephyr laser line scanner to provide the ideal resolution for the small objects. Multiple scans were taken of every bone to get all sides which were then digitally combined to create the watertight polygon models of each bone.

The polygon models (provided in various formats including STL, OBJ, DXF, and VRML) can be used for many different purposes including complex measurement, physical reproduction, visualizations and animations - or even as the basis for a CAD Nurbs model for strength of materials FEA analysis. Another advanced use for this data is to fabricate the dimensional shape of the bone in a lattice structure using rapid prototyping to facilitate the growth of a new bone with stem cells.

Mr. Rini, meanwhile, successfully used the high quality 3D polygonal models in ZBrush and other software to create his medical illustrations and renderings.