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3D Modeling in Medicine - from Digital Tomography to a 3D Model

Petar Valchanov


Introduction: Three-dimensional (3D) modeling is a digital process, which allow us to create an anatomically correct 3D model. It can demonstrate the anatomical structures in the body on a multiplanar scale. 3D models can be used in medicine for presentational, educational, scientific, diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

Materials and Methods: 3D modeling requires a desktop computer or an end-user workstation, and a commercial or open-source software, which includes: software for medical image informatics, 3D CAD or a 3D sculpting program and, depending on the purpose of the model, 3D engine for 3D visualization or a 3D slicing program for 3D printing.

Results: The 3D model is generated by precise morphological data, which are acquired through microscopic or tomographic medical imaging. With a segmentation software, a label map is created - the parts of the imaging, which will be included in the model. From the label map the segmentation software generates the raw 3D model, which has to be subsequently processed with a 3D sculpting software. The final model can be used as a 3D visualization, volumetric 3D hologram or it can be built with a 3D printer.

Conclusions: 3D models have many benefits over traditional 2D models (pictures, illustrations): the aspects of the morphological structures can be observed freely, from different angles and in a higher level of details, they can be animated, instant calculations can be made on the targeted structures and lastly, they can easily be 3D printed with synthetic or biological materials. The 3D modeling can be performed with open-source software on a desktop computer or with commercial software on end-user workstation, depending on the complexity of the imaging and the required quality of the final 3D model. However, it requires some basic software, visual, medical and artistic skills.


anatomy, 3D modeling, imaging, CAD, 3D visualization


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