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Invited Commentary
May 29, 2019

Advanced Volumetric 3-Dimensional Visualization of Surgical Anatomy—Are We There Yet?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Surgery, Stanford University, Stanford, California
JAMA Surg. Published online May 29, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2019.1169

The concept of using computer-augmented radiographs to facilitate surgical planning began more than 30 years ago. One of the most common approaches to advanced visualization of surgical anatomy was volume rendering, a set of techniques for displaying 2-dimensional (2-D) projections of 3-dimensional (3-D) data.1 Historically, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were natural sources of rich, 3-D data for volume rendering research. Today, significant advances in the spatial resolution and efficiency of CT and MRI technology have greatly improved the ability to produce photorealistic, 3-D images of human anatomy.2 These advances have served as the driving force and foundation for an ever-growing body of research and advanced technologies geared toward full realization and broad implementation of computer-assisted imaging in surgery and surgical planning.3,4 Although volume rendering is still in wide use for advanced visualization science and industry applications, more recently, cinematic rendering has allowed for a more natural and physically accurate image with improved shape and depth perception.5

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