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Guest Editors' Introduction: Anatomic Rendering and Visualization

Jim X. Chen, George Mason University
Tianyu Zhang, Fudan University

Pages: pp. 11-12

New technologies in rendering and visualization have created enormous opportunities for medical applications that examine the human body. To capitalize on these advances, we've pulled together this special issue of Computing in Science & Engineering to investigate and study such methods for medical anatomy.

Traditionally, medical anatomy has involved operations and medical training on cadavers. However, today's doctors often use CT-scan images, cryosection images, and other sources of data for medical analysis and training. Some fascinating new methods for processing these medical data, generating 3D models, and rendering and visualizing the results promise improved medical understanding, surgery planning, and anatomic training.

A New Community

This special issue is intended to address the challenges in handling and rendering anatomic data of human body structures in different research and application areas. We've brought together different research and applications to help foster greater insight and understanding of some specific medical problems and to share innovative techniques for addressing virtual anatomy in this fast-growing interdisciplinary community.

The response to our call for papers was so overwhelming that we can't publish all the accepted material here; many excellent articles will thus appear in issues throughout 2007. We believe you'll find all the articles informative, valuable, and rewarding.

The Articles

In "Stylized Rendering for Anatomic Visualization," Tong-Yee Lee, Chung-Ren Yan, and Ming-Te Chi use a creative nonphotorealistic rendering technique to visualize anatomic models. Their methods can render anatomic models with different stylizations as an alternative to conventional volume or surface rendering for medical applications.

"Visualizing Dual-Modality Rendered Volumes Using a Dual-Lookup Table Transfer Function," by Jinman Kim, Stefan Eberl, and Dagan Feng, introduces an efficient transfer function for efficiently and intuitively manipulating volume images with positron emission and computed tomography.

In "A Contour Map of the Ear's Vestibular Apparatus Based on 3D Reconstruction," Tian-Yu Zhang and his colleagues create an anatomic contour map that quantitatively displays 3D models of the ear's utricle, saccule, and stapedial footplate. The contour map and 3D models provide a simulation tool for determining the appropriate position of the drill operation for ear surgery, which includes safe depth and orientation of the installed piston in stapedotomy procedures.

"Surface Rendering for Parallel Slices of Contours from Medical Imaging," by Wang Qiang, Zhigeng Pan, Chen Chun, and Bu Jiajun, introduces a method for rendering surface from a deck of medical image contours. The authors' method is based on radial basis functions and can render smooth human organ surfaces efficiently from medical images.

Richard P. Sharp and his colleagues' "Volume Rendering Phenotype Differences in Mouse Placenta Microscopy Data" studies phenotype differences in wildtype and retinoblastoma ( Rb) knockout specimens. The absence of the Rb gene causes tissue infiltrations into critical sections of mouse placenta that eventually lead to fetal death. The authors present volume visualization of tissue-level intermixing at a microscopic scale for both wildtype and Rb knockout specimens that aren't obvious from examining the 2D image deck.

Finally, "Fast Global Illumination for Visualizing Isosurfaces with a 3D Illumination Grid," by David C. Banks and Kevin Beason, presents a fast global illumination method for visualizing isosurfaces. To achieve real-time interaction, general methods examine isosurfaces of 3D data sets with local illumination. The authors' method stores the precomputed illumination in a texture map, thus letting users sweep through globally illuminated isosurfaces in real time.


The diverse topics and innovative methods developed in these articles are quite impressive: they involve complex computational methods in physics, chemistry, medicine, and other areas for data acquisition, model construction, rendering, simulation, and virtual operations. We've introduced and summarized the articles' contents here, but you'll find much more information and visualization in the articles themselves. Enjoy!

About the Authors

Jim X. Chen is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at George Mason University. His research interests include graphics, visualization, virtual reality, networking, and simulation. Chen has a PhD in computer science from the University of Central Florida. He is a member of the IEEE and the IEEE Computer Society. Contact him at
Tianyu Zhang is an associate professor in the Eye and ENT Hospital at Fudan University. His research interests include otorhinolaryngology, neuro-otosurgery, and virtual ear surgery. Zhang has an MD in clinical medicine from Fudan University. Contact him at
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