• lateral skull base;
  • 3D reconstruction;
  • plastination;
  • anatomy


The goals of this study were to build the 3D reconstructed model of lateral skull base and to explore the spatial relationships of the important structures for providing the morphological basis for lateral skull base surgery and clinical image diagnosis. Blocks with edges of about 80 mm containing the lateral skull base region and adjacent structures were sawn out from both sides of the heads and sectioned on transverse plane at a thickness of 700 μm using a plastination technique. On an SGI workstation, a Contours-Marching cubes algorithm was selected to reconstruct the 3D model of the lateral skull base. Accurate alignment of the structures in the serial macroscopic sections was obtained by the employment of the plastination technique. The quality of the reconstructed images was distinct and perfect, specifically, the spatial positions and complicated adjacent relationships of various structures of the lateral skull base can be shown in direct viewing when they are displayed in background of the cranial bony substance. The time spent in displaying or rotating one image including 50 sections was 1.5 sec; all reconstructed structures can be represented individually or jointly and rotated in any plane. The plastination technique and computer-aided 3D reconstruction have an obvious advantage in the study of the complex anatomy of the lateral skull base. Plastination technique provides cross-section images of a higher resolution than those obtained from CT scanning. The computerized 3D reconstruction is important in studying the spatial anatomy of the lateral skull base and can serve as a standard for models created with other techniques. Anat Rec Part A 278A:437–442, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.