- Dufeau, David and Russell, Claire
- 3D visualization research is useful as a learning tool for medical students learning human anatomy and as a diagnostic tool for practicing physicians. Here we explore the use of this application of medical imaging in recognizing pancreatic cancer. One important problem is that pancreatic cancer is most commonly diagnosed in later stages which leads to a poor prognosis for survival. Pancreatitis presents with indistinct upper gastrointestinal symptoms, making it sometimes difficult to diagnose in clinical examination. The difficulty of early diagnosis and possible application of 3D visualization to the problem is the focus of our study. Using 3D imaging methods, we present the anatomy of the pancreas, pathologies related to pancreatic cancer, and comment on why it is so often unrecognized or misdiagnosed. The pancreas can be difficult to view, even by trained physicians and technicians. 3D imaging allows students to practice visualizing the pancreas in the same format they will with a future patient. Anonymized CT scans were obtained of a healthy patient and a patient with pancreatitis. Amira Software, a 3D imaging analytical tool, was used to measure structural density and generate an outline for research. Using Amira, we interpolated the 2D image and provided a 3D image for analysis and comparison between the healthy and unhealthy pancreas. Several surrounding organs were generated to help ascertain size and location of the pancreas. The result of this project is that the pancreas is not always well visualized with CT technology and could possibly be overlooked, even by a well-practiced physician. Different techniques should be utilized and taught to medical students to help in the early detection of pancreatic diseases.