Animating external magnetic guidance of intrathecally delivered gold-coated nanoparticles to treat intramedullary spinal tumors

Overview: Intramedullary spinal cord tumors (IMSCTs) are rare neoplasms in the central nervous system (CNS), accounting for 2-4% of all CNS tumors (Tobin, et al., 2015). Astrocytomas, a common type of IMSCT, are infiltrative and do not lie in a clear plane of dissection, between the normal spinal cord tissue and the tumor. This makes the removal of the tumor through surgery difficult. Due to limitations in current surgical options along with the adverse effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the use of external magnets to guide intrathecally delivered gold-coated nanoparticles has been proposed as a less invasive treatment with fewer side effects for eliminating astrocytomas (Tobin et al., 2015; Leushen et al., 2014). To accompany the emergence of this technique an animation using anonymized patient data was created to both explain and to create a new resource to teach grant committees, surgical residents, and surgical faculty about the technique.

This animation was done in collaboration with Dr. Ankit Mehta in the Neurosurgery Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Audience: Grant committees, surgical residents, healthcare professionals, and those new to the technique.

Programs Used: Pixologic ZBrush, Autodesk 3ds Max, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Pro Poser 11, Visual Molecular Dynamics

Process: In order to create this final animation on an innovative neurosurgical technique, there were a number of steps that went into the process.

Step 1 Scientific Research: In order to create an accurate animation, scientific research is paramount to the rest of the animation process.

Step 2 Identifying the Story and Storyboarding: To begin creating the story, a script for the material covered in the animation was developed along with a visual storyboard taking into consideration both the story as well as camera direction needed to animate the story. A sample from all three versions of the storyboard can be found below.

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Step 3 Iterations of the Animation: To create the final animation a number of iterations were created. Each time improving camera motion, 3D models, and textures.

Step 4 Final Animation: