Digital rendering of a complete cat skeleton

At 3D Anatomy Studios we are passionate about creating educational resources that will be useful for educators and students learning animal anatomy. Cats are one of the most commonly used reference animals in human and vertebrate anatomy classes. Yet, there was not a publicly available CT scan of a cat that educators or researchers could download for developing educational resources. This is even more surprising considering both the popularity of cats as pets and the number of CT scans of cats performed every year by veterinary care providers.

To solve this lack of anatomical resources we CT scanned a cat (a dissection specimen) and made the CT scan publicly available for free download from Morphosource.org. Because the size of the specimen exceeded the total scan volume of the scanner, we had to perform multiple scans of each body region. And for the skull, we had to supplement this scan with a scan of an additional specimen at higher resolution because of missing elements.

To show the power of medical imaging data for creating anatomical resources, we used these CT data to create this digital rendering of a complete cat skeleton. Despite its realistic look, this image is created entirely from digital data. 3D Anatomy Studios member JD Laurence-Chasen performed the majority of segmentation (digitally separating each bone in the CT data) and assembly of each element into an articulated skeleton in the digital design software Blender. 3D Anatomy Studios member Aaron Olsen edited the design and added lighting and materials to create the final rendering.

We believe strongly in the value of specimen-based science and anatomy education. Using medical imaging of specimens to create digital models and renderings is just one of the many uses of specimens in creating highly accurate and realistic resources for anatomy research and education.

CT segmentation and model assembly by: J.D. Laurence-Chasen, PhD

Editing and rendering by: Aaron Olsen, PhD

Software used: 3D Slicer for segmentation; Blender for assembly and rendering

License: CC BY-NC-SA 3D Anatomy Studios