An interactive three-dimensional virtual body structures system for anatomical training over the internet



The Visible Human digital datasets make it possible to develop computer-based anatomical training systems that use virtual anatomical models (virtual body structures—VBS). Medical schools are combining these virtual training systems and classical anatomy teaching methods that use labeled images and cadaver dissection. In this paper we present a customizable web-based three-dimensional anatomy training system, W3D-VBS. W3D-VBS uses National Library of Medicine's (NLM) Visible Human Male datasets to interactively locate, explore, select, extract, highlight, label, and visualize, realistic 2D (using axial, coronal, and sagittal views) and 3D virtual structures. A real-time self-guided virtual tour of the entire body is designed to provide detailed anatomical information about structures, substructures, and proximal structures. The system thus facilitates learning of visuospatial relationships at a level of detail that may not be possible by any other means. The use of volumetric structures allows for repeated real-time virtual dissections, from any angle, at the convenience of the user. Volumetric (3D) virtual dissections are performed by adding, removing, highlighting, and labeling individual structures (and/or entire anatomical systems). The resultant virtual explorations (consisting of anatomical 2D/3D illustrations and animations), with user selected highlighting colors and label positions, can be saved and used for generating lesson plans and evaluation systems. Tracking users' progress using the evaluation system helps customize the curriculum, making W3D-VBS a powerful learning tool. Our plan is to incorporate other Visible Human segmented datasets, especially datasets with higher resolutions, that make it possible to include finer anatomical structures such as nerves and small vessels. Clin. Anat. 267–274, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.