Successfully Taking Hundreds of 3D Medical Photographs Daily

Author: Kelly Duncan, EVP, Sales, Marketing & Business Development, 3dMD

Source: IMI News, March 2012.

With a highly ambitious goal of building the world’s largest database of 3D facial images for vital research into face shape patterns, clinical teams from Great Ormond Street Hospital, University College Hospital, Eastman Dental Hospital and the Institute recently launched the “Me in 3D” initiative in the London Science Museum. While volunteers are excited to have their 3D photograph taken for viewing and fun, the Live Science experience is designed to provide surgeons with the highly precise information they need to improve treatment for patients with facial disfigurement.

To date, most facial shape research has been conducted from a skeletal standpoint. The “Me in 3D” project will transition facial shape research from the relatively low numbers of patients in hospitals, to a mass collection of people from all over the world. This allows study of the variation that exists in the complete facial shape including the skin and underlying muscles.

For the database collection exercise, the “Me in 3D” team understood the immense importance of obtaining anatomically-accurate facial images with a standardised methodology. For the research to mathematically model valid face shape patterns, anatomical structures and relationships must be comparable across subjects.

From an equipment standpoint, the “Me in 3D” team decided to use the latest in 3D surface imaging from 3dMD as it has already proven to be reliable over many years and is consistently producing precise results in day-to-day clinical use in their hospitals.

“With a multitude of subject pose and facial expression variations possible for each 3D photograph, we decided to take the necessary precautions to minimize such complexities,” said Chris Abela, Senior Craniofacial Fellow, Great Ormond Street Hospital. “As medical photographers are well trained in maintaining consistent imaging protocols over time and putting subjects of all ages at ease, we added three individuals to our team who displayed keen insight into these challenges.”

From 11 January until 10 April 2012, the “Me in 3D” initiative is scheduled seven days a week from 10am-6pm daily in the Live Science area on the first floor of the Welcome Wing. With one of the professional photographers always on staff to take 3D images of volunteers, she is joined each day by a different combination of team members from the three institutions. For example one day additional members of the team might include a surgeon from GOSH, an orthodontist from Eastman, and a medical physicist from UCL. Volunteers and their families have the opportunity to meet and talk to some of the specialists involved, asking them questions about how their face develops and grows and what is done in hospital for children or adults who need to have facial surgery.

A team approach is critical, as the Live Science area is open to the general public without an appointment in the London Science Museum. On any given day there could be hundreds of people wanting to participate in the “Me in 3D” project. From a procedural standpoint, the volunteers and their parents are required to take a few moments to complete and sign a consent form, as well as a general family background form. Once this is completed, the volunteer must queue in the line to get his/her 3D photograph taken.

During this wait, in preparation for the imaging session, the volunteer must fully expose the face, ears, and neck region by pulling back any hair and removing any scarves, jackets with high collars, hats, jewellery, and/or spectacles. As part of the experience, a surgical cap is available to any volunteer who wants to use it to pull back his/her hair.

From an imaging protocol perspective, the volunteer is positioned optimally in front of the 3dMD system. The photographer does a final check to confirm the hair is swept back, the chin is slightly up, and all jewelry is removed and then asks the volunteers to remain ‘in repose’ (i.e. expressionless) with their mouth closed. When the subject is ready, the photographer clicks the trigger button and the 3dMD system takes nine photographs in only 1.5 milliseconds. The intelligent 3dMD software generates a 3D surface image using a sophisticated technique called Stereo Photogrammetry.

With the 3D photograph taken, the volunteer moves into the interactive area where PC workstations are available to view and play with the 3dMD image.

“Based on this project of imaging hundreds of subjects a day in a public forum, I believe anatomically-accurate 3D photography has the potential to revolutionize workflow efficiency in the hospital,” said “Me in 3D” photographer and IMI member Amy Howe. “Not only can you extract the different 2D camera views from one 3dMD image, 3D medical photography is being instrumental in providing clinicians with important anatomical structure information that will serve as a foundation for measurement, assessment, quantification, comparison, and outcome evaluation.”

From the 11th of January to the 19th of February, more than 7,500 3dMD images have been taken of volunteers who have also provided associated consent forms and family background information. The “Me in 3D” team is hoping to collect more than 15,000 3dMD images before the completion of the project on the 11th of April.

 

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