In an age where we are surrounded and inundated by technology and wondrous special effects daily, the benefits of animation and technology in the courtroom certainly cannot be ignored.
As an alternative to often-costly and time-consuming 3D animations, recently, we have become excited about the expanding possibilities of animating DICOM radiology image reconstructions for use in the medical malpractice defense forum. Although they have been around for more than a decade, DICOMs (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) are now becoming mainstream. DICOMs are the standard in the field of medicine for the exchange of images and other related information, and virtually all imaging devices that are used in radiology support them. This information allows us to visualize anatomical data sets and reconstruct digital 3D models of the anatomy, which can in turn be animated or artistically interpreted for use in trial.
DICOM reconstructions are very useful in helping jurors to conceptualize what is being shown in the flat radiological films. Particular pathologies that reconstruct well are fractures, tumors, aberrant anatomy, aneurysms, and altered anatomy – just to name a few. Animations of the reconstructions allow the jury to see the anatomy or pathology from all angles and to better observe the spatial relationships with adjacent organs/structures.
We all know how confusing radiology images and anatomy in general can be, and to help clarify them, we can overlay anatomical illustrations onto the reconstruction or animation as necessary – making a more ‘jury-friendly’ explaining exactly what is seen on the patient’s films, studies, etc. Such interpretive illustrations typically fade on and off during a pause in the animation.
DICOM animations do have some limitations. For example, CTs are much easier to extract visual information from than MRIs, for instance, and small soft tissue structures can be difficult to isolate as well. Bony anatomy and vasculature are ideal however – check out the clips below to get an idea of what DICOM animations can do for you!
—Contributed by Emily Ullo Steigler, MS, CMI