3D Fetus

This study has introduced the use of physical models in fetal research, an area in which there are few studies on digital modeling ( 3D )

The earliest records of attempts on graphical representation of the fetus date back to the year  1500. as an example, artistic drawings ate scattered in museums and private collections around the world. Among the artists who achieved a refined quality in terms of visual representation of the fetus is Leonardo da Vinci. He demonstrated – through various anatomical studies – the process of fetal development.

The use of physical models in medicine began with didactic purposes in Italy from the Renaissance period on. Wax models representing different parts of the human body emerged with great visual realism and included the changes of a woman’s body during the pregnancy.

The increasing technological development in obtaining and viewing images through non-invasive technologies has brought great advances in medicine, especially in viewing the fetus. In general, two types of tests are used to obtain images of the uterine cavity during the pregnancy: ultrasonography (USG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Detail of transparent model of pregnant woman where it is possible to visualise the fetus inside the womb - printed in 3D multimaterial technology - OBJET CONNEX from the combination of 3D files obtained from MRI and bodyscanner

Transparent models of pregnant women where it is possible to visualise the fetus inside the womb - printed in 3D multimaterial technology - OBJET CONNEX from the combination of 3D files obtained from MRI and bodyscanner

USG has been used in obstetrics for over 30 years, opening a new window to the study of fetus. This is currently the main method for routine fetal assessment due to its safety, relatively simple operation, harmlessness to the binomial fetus/mother and great availability in our midst.

MRI is a noninvasive investigative method which is able to offer well-defined images of the human body and is used as a complementary method to ultrasonography.

Virtual three-dimensional modelling has gained great momentum in recent years due to high software performance applied in the fields of engineering, architecture and “design”. It has become more and more friendly, what enables easier  viewing of 3D images. These images can be generated by medical test (e.g. MRI and USG ) or from other methods such as computed tomography, 3D laser scanners (widely used in “design” and engineering) and scanners (widely used in animations games, etc.)

Thus, the post-processing of medical imaging-facilitated by the technological evolution of the virtual three-dimensional modelling software – may provide new applications for three-dimensional representation.

The transparent model presented in this chapter presents a major technological innovation since for the first time in history a mother was scanned three-dimensionally in a body scanner and a MRI exam was then performed. The post processing allowed the three-dimensional files obtained (mother’s body by 3D body scanner and fetus by MRI) to be mathematically aligned. This resulted in a three-dimensional model of high dimensional accuracy with an exact visualization of the position of the fetus inside the mother. The subsequent three-dimensional file was also printed in 3D through the technology of multimaterial add-ons (OBJET Connex 350) which enabled the printing of a transparent 3D image of the mother’s body with the visualization of the fetus inside the mother’s womb.

The technology of add-on material allows the conversion of a 3D virtual model into a physical model through a fast and easy process with accurate dimensions. The construction process transfers a data file onto a 3D rapid prototyping equipment which builds physical models by the overlaying of thin layers of raw material.

This study has introduced the use of physicals models in fetal research, an area in which there are few studies on digital modelling (3D). The results suggest a new possibility in the interaction between parents and fetus during prenatal care, physically recreating the uterus during pregnancy, showing the actual size of the fetus, as well as its anatomy.

Based on these results, we believe that physical models will shortly help in the tactile an interactive study of many medical disciplines. These techniques may be useful for prospective parents – especially visually disabled parents – as they recreate a 3D model with the physical characteristics of the fetus, allowing a more direct emotional connection with the unborn baby.

Transparent models of pregnant women where it is possible to visualise the fetus inside the womb - printed in 3D multimaterial technology - OBJET CONNEX from the combination of 3D files obtained from MRI and bodyscanner