Three-dimensional volume rendering of the ankle based on magnetic resonance images enables the generation of images comparable to real anatomy

Giuseppe Anastasi, Giuseppina Cutroneo, Daniele Bruschetta, Fabio Trimarchi, Giuseppe Ielitro, Simona Cammaroto, Antonio Duca, Placido Bramanti, Angelo Favaloro, Gianluigi Vaccarino, Demetrio Milardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have applied high-quality medical imaging techniques to study the structure of the human ankle. Direct volume rendering, using specific algorithms, transforms conventional two-dimensional (2D) magnetic resonance image (MRI) series into 3D volume datasets. This tool allows high-definition visualization of single or multiple structures for diagnostic, research, and teaching purposes. No other image reformatting technique so accurately highlights each anatomic relationship and preserves soft tissue definition. Here, we used this method to study the structure of the human ankle to analyze tendon-bone-muscle relationships. We compared ankle MRI and computerized tomography (CT) images from 17 healthy volunteers, aged 18-30 years (mean 23 years). An additional subject had a partial rupture of the Achilles tendon. The MRI images demonstrated superiority in overall quality of detail compared to the CT images. The MRI series accurately rendered soft tissue and bone in simultaneous image acquisition, whereas CT required several window-reformatting algorithms, with loss of image data quality. We obtained high-quality digital images of the human ankle that were sufficiently accurate for surgical and clinical intervention planning, as well as for teaching human anatomy. Our approach demonstrates that complex anatomical structures such as the ankle, which is rich in articular facets and ligaments, can be easily studied non-invasively using MRI data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-599
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


  • Ankle
  • MRI
  • Volume rendering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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