3D4Medical is a software developer renowned for its 3D anatomy apps which target single anatomical regions. They have a diverse range of applications which cover all the major orthopaedic specialties.
Each app contains a detailed anatomical overview of a specific region and adjacent areas. The quality of the images is the most photorealistic to date. The anatomical detail is excellent and the 3D models look impressive with the inclusion of small details like subcutaneous fat and many anatomical structures are marked.
The complete range:
o Shoulder Pro III
o Skeleton System Pro III
o Hip Pro III
o Knee Pro III
o Spine Pro III
o Orthopaedic Patient Education
o Foot & Ankle Pro III
o Hand & Wrist Pro III
o Elbow Pro III
o Muscle System Pro III
Multi-touch gestures allow the user to rotate, cut, slice and manipulate each joint. There is a good range of additional slices which allow one to follow structures through the joint. Each anatomical pin contains a concise overview of the structure such as name, innervation, muscle attachments etc. There are also additional videos and images which highlight the function and individual muscles at that particular location.
A useful addition is the pen function which allows users to annotate screenshots before exporting them for presentations or other uses. They can even be exported and emailed to patients if desired.
One particularly impressive feature is the ability to make transverse, sagittal or coronal slices at user selected levels through the joint in addition to the standard rotating 3D model, which helps develop anatomical understanding. All these apps offer an option to merge and view different layers to create customised images.
Patient education is a crucial part of any medical or surgical intervention with numerous studies showing that improving patient knowledge helps improve compliance and leads to a better outcome. The specialist Orthopaedic Patient Education app contains a total of 117 videos. These can be split into Anatomy, Conditions and Procedures. Many common orthopaedic and rheumatological conditions are covered such as osteoarthritis, joint arthoplasty, carpal tunnel release whilst other less common conditions such as avascular necrosis of the shoulder and facet joint syndrome are also included.
Each video is about 1-2 minutes long and clearly highlights the problem through clever use of faded anatomical structures and highlighting colours. The videos are high resolution and the content is superb. The level of detail is high and the treatment options are made clear to aid patient understanding. These are particularly useful for explaining surgical interventions to patients in clinic as each video is clear yet concise meaning surgeons can potentially save time by simplifying the explanation of complex surgical procedures. Unfortunately there is no way to export the videos or store them without the app, however demonstration examples can be accessed at http://applications.3d4medical.com/orthopedic_education
There is also a powerful search function.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to these apps is their cost, which adds up if multiple anatomical regions are purchased.
Improvements would include additional transverse slices and more control over which structures are displayed. There is a wide range of anatomy apps available for the iPad, so there is some competition in this field. These particular apps offer excellent levels of anatomical detail and utility in clinical scenarios. Whilst the level of anatomical detail is suitable for surgeon self-education, the real strength of these apps is for enhanced patient education.
Reviewed by Mr Tom Lewis