We often talked about 3D printing in medicine. This technology is increasingly being used to produce cheap prothesis, implants and other similar devices more quickly and -above all- more cheaply.
Today, however, we are dealing with something that may relate to any of us: DICOM images. As you can read in the linked page, DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) is
the international standard for medical images and related information (ISO 12052). It defines the formats for medical images that can be exchanged with the data and quality necessary for clinical use. DICOM is implemented in almost every radiology, cardiology imaging, and radiotherapy device (X-ray, CT, MRI, ultrasound, etc.), and increasingly in devices in other medical domains such as ophthalmology and dentistry
Usually (or at least here in Italy) DICOM images are provided to patient in a CD or DVD, with a software that allows him/her to visualize them. But if you want to do something more than just see them, well, you need something different.
You need InVesalius.
InVesalius is a free software for reconstruction of computed tomography and magnetic ressonance images (…),developed since 2001 by Centro de Tecnologia da Informação Renato Archer (CTI) (Brazil)
and supported by Brazilian Ministry of Health. InVesalius can export DICOM images into a.OBJ or .STL mesh.
It is not difficult to use. We will use the “Cranium” file, one of the examples you can download here.
First of all, unzip the folder (in our case 0051) somewhere. Then run InVesalius, and from “Load data” schedule click on “Import medical images”. Browse your pc and select the folder; images will be not selectable, because you have to import all of them; so, just click on “Open”.
Next screen tells you that 108 images have been opened. Click on “Import” to generate multiplanar visualization.
Now, on the left panel, the “Select region of interest” section will be opened; click on “Create surface”.
You are now at the third step (“Configure 3D surface”). You can click on “Next step” and skip to the last section (“Export data”). This will create the .stl file.