The field of medical illustration has a history of making important contributions to the scientific literature via the study and visualization of biological data. These contributions include works by medical illustrators Max Broedel, Dorcas Padget, and James Didusch published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Being largely limited to the use of cadaveric specimens and serial sections to create data-driven visualizations posed many challenges to these pioneers in the field. The evolution of high-resolution radiological imaging has offered extensive new opportunities for medical illustrators to utilize volumetric data in teaching anatomical and pathological concepts. In particular, understanding of variations in human neurovascular anatomy has recently improved due to imaging techniques such as 3D digital subtraction angiography and flat-panel catheter angiotomography. These techniques offer high-resolution multiplanar acquisitions of the arterial supply and venous drainage of the brain and spinal cord in vivo. In turn, medical illustration and visualization in this area of study has played a substantial role in disseminating advancements in knowledge.
In addition, medical illustrators can use their anatomical knowledge in the study and segmentation of these high-resolution data for the production of 3D-printed models. Among many applications, these 3D models are able to reduce or replace the use of animal models for certain types of experiments including anatomical feasibly studies and radiological research.
This presentation will provide an overview of visualization challenges within the field of medical illustration and focus on considerations associated with creating data-driven medical illustrations (including 2D, 3D, still and animated media) and 3D models for research applications.