Reconstruction of fetal and infant anatomy using rapid prototyping of post-mortem MR images

Insights Imaging. 2010 Sep;1(4):281-286. doi: 10.1007/s13244-010-0028-5. Epub 2010 Jun 19.


OBJECTIVES: The recent decline in autopsy rates and lack of human anatomical material donated for research and training has resulted in issues for medical training in the United Kingdom. This study aims to examine the feasibility of making accurate three-dimensional (3D) models of the human body and visceral organs using post-mortem magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and rapid prototyping. METHODS: We performed post-mortem MR imaging using a 3D T2-weighted sequence in 11 fetuses and infants, before autopsy, using either a 1.5-T or 9.4-T MR scanner. Internal organs were reconstructed in silico and 3D models were created by rapid prototyping. RESULTS: The median gestation of fetuses was 20 (range 19-30) weeks and the median age of infants was 12 (range 8-16) weeks. Models created by rapid prototyping accurately depicted structural abnormalities and allowed clear visualisation of 3D relationships. CONCLUSIONS: Accurate 3D modelling of anatomical features from post-mortem imaging in fetuses and infants is feasible. These models could have a large number of medical applications, including improved parental counselling, invaluable teaching resources and significant medico-legal applications to demonstrate disease or injury, without the need to show actual autopsy photographs.