Three Dimensional Image Reconstruction

Another method of producing a three-dimensional data set is by taking a serialized two-dimensional data set, e.g., CT scans, and building this into a three-dimensional data set. Several companies offer this service, and can also provide a rapid prototype model for surgical planning and training. Using reverse engineering tools is also an important way to produce organ phantoms (training models) for surgical training.

One of the more ambitious three-dimensional image reconstruction projects is the Visible Human Project® of the National Library of Medicine. In 1993 researchers at Colorado State University took the cadaver of a Texas death row inmate, froze it, and sliced it into 1-mm sections. Each section was digitally photographed, and the resulting images were processed into a highly detailed three-dimensional database. Several more donated cadavers have since been processed and added to the database.16

Image reconstruction software to turn two-dimensional CT and MRI scans into three-dimensional data sets is available from Materialize, n.v. (Leuven, Belgium). Materialize sells its Mimics software to generate.STL files from CT scans. Materialize also offers a suite of applications for surgical planning and for editing and manipulating files in .STL format. These include Simplant, SAFE®, and SurgiGuide® products. Materialize also publishes numerous case surgical studies on its website (

Javelin3D (Salt Lake City, UT, offers its Velocity® software for MRI and CT scan three-dimensional reconstruction.

16 For more information, see McCracken, Thomas, New Atlas of Human Anatomy, Metro Books, 1999, and gal-lery.html.

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