Medical image atlases contain much information about human anatomy, but learning the shapes of anatomical regions and making sense of the overall structure defined in the atlas can be problematic. Atlases may contain hundreds of regions with complex shapes which can be tightly packed together. This makes visualisation difficult since the shapes can fit together in complex ways and visually obscure each other. In this work, we describe a technique which enables interactive exploration of medical image atlases that permits the hierarchical structure of the atlas and the content of an underlying medical image to be investigated simultaneously. Our method enables a user to create visualizations of the atlas similar to the exploded views used in technical illustrations to show the structure of mechanical assemblies. These views are constrained by the geometry of the atlas and the hierarchical structure to reduce the complexity of user interaction. We also enable the user to explode the atlas meshes themselves. The atlas meshes are registered with a medical image which is displayed on the cut surfaces of the meshes using raycasting. Results from the AAL human brain atlas are presented and discussed.
biomedical visualization; volume rendering; brain atlas
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