A Computerized Three-Dimensional Atlas of the Human Skull and Brain
Recently, it has become possible through the methods of digital image processing and computer graphics to reconstruct from magnetic resonance (MR) imaging or computer tomography (CT) the shape of anatomic objects in three dimensions (Herman & Liu, 1979; Höhne et al., 1987, 1992; Höhne, Riemer, & Tiede, 1987; Vannier, Marsh, & Warren, 1983). Such reconstructions have proved to be useful in therapy (especially surgery) planning (Fishman, Ney, & Magid, 1990; Witte et al., 1986; Zonneveld et al., 1989). However, widespread application is limited by a problem peculiar to three-dimensional image processing: unlike two-dimensional cross-sectional images, objects within a three-dimensional scene may obscure each other. Therefore, any visualization must be preceded by a segmentation step in which three-dimensional regions belonging to an organ must be identified. Only if this is done can they be visualized or removed. This segmentation step is the most difficult one in three-dimensional visualization. At present, only very few objects can be segmented automatically. The educational application of three-dimensional visualization techniques has been overlooked. In this case, only a limited number of specimens have to be segmented into their constituents; it is feasible for this work to be done by a person rather than by a computer. With this motivation, we have developed an interactive three-dimensional atlas of the human head. It is the purpose of this chapter to show the usefulness of this approach both for education and clinical work.
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