In 1985, Barrow Neurological Institute (www.thebarrow.org) created its Neuroscience Publications department to produce educational content for neurosurgeons, physicians, and patients about neurological diseases and treatment options. In 2000, we started using Autodesk Maya to produce stereo 3D animations, illustrations, and VRs. Autodesk Maya has been a critical tool in the expansion of the field of medical educational content.
Surgical and video observation have limited usefulness because blood and tight surgical fields make it difficult to conceptualize the anatomy hidden from view. Traditional 2D illustrations are helpful for simplifying images, but are limited in their ability to reproduce 3D structures, movement, and alternate viewing angles.
Maya allows us to create accurate 3D anatomic structures that we can build upon and improve over time. Neurological structures are intricate and have complex relationships with one another, so manipulating these structures in 3D space affords the neurosurgeon a deeper understanding of the structure’s shape. The more knowledge the doctors can gain about anatomy and procedures in 3D, the safer and more successful they will be in their hands-on training.
Using Maya, we can quickly break down complex anatomical structures to their core elements by removing or hiding impeding constructs. We can overlay hidden structures and, because the structures were modeled in 3D, they automatically register in the correct orientation. We can look at the models from different views and animate their movements, making the anatomy or procedure easier to grasp because the viewer can witness its transition from one state to another. Maya also offers the option to output stereo 3D imagery, which is especially important to neurosurgeons who regularly use stereo microscopes intraoperatively to look at deep, narrow surgical fields.
Our department elected to use Maya because its speed and node-based architecture allow us to create complex deformations of detailed anatomical models. Its powerful scripting languages also allow us to automate and expand on features with ease, thereby shortening our production time.
Motion Media is always on top of the latest software updates, and their support has been instrumental in getting us set up quickly with Maya.. We look forward to continued growth and partnership with them in the years to come.