Medical Illustration of Atherosclerosis

Did you know that the consequences of arteriosclerosis are the leading cause of death in Western industrialised nations, even more so than cancer? After already doing a series of illustrations for the Winterthur Hospital about vascular diseases and treatments I now created Red Blood Cellsan illustration that shows specifically atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a plaque buildWhite Blood Cells-up made up of cholesterol, fatty substances, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin, inside the arteries that restricts blood flow, preventing the organs and tissues from getting the oxygenated blood they need to function.

First Sketches
First Sketches and Thumbnails
Work in Progess of Arteriosclerosis.

Interactive 3D Models of the Spina bifida

I was asked by the Swiss surgeon Prof. Dr. Meuli from the Childrens Hospital in Zürich to produce two 3D models on the topic Spina bifida. The Spina bifida (split spine) is a development congenital disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube. Because some vertebrae are not fully formed, remaining unfused and open, a part of the spinal cord protrudes through that opening.
There are three categories of the Spina bifida: spina bifida occulta, spina bifida cystica with meningocele, and spina bifida cystica with myelomeningocele. Prof. Dr. Meuli wanted me to make a 3D model of the most significant and common form Myelomeningocele. If left untreated, this form usually leads to hydrocephalus, bladder dysfunction and a life in a wheelchair.

Spina bifida can be surgically closed after birth, but this does not restore normal function to the affected part of the spinal cord. But Prof. Dr. Meuli is specialized in Intrauterine surgery He is one of the world’s first to preform surgery on unborn children with the Spina bifida condition in the womb of the mother. Three years ago, he sucsessfully preformed surgery on an unborn child suffering from Spina bifida, in the womb for the first time. A challenge considering these patients are only 400 to 500 grams and the organs of course accordingly small. Very challenging also is finding the way to the tiny patient through the abdomen of the mother, uterus and amniotic sac, that must regain normal functioning after surgery.

Prof. Dr. Meuli wished for a interactive 3D Model, which he himself could turn, zoom in and out and turn on and turn off different layers, like the skin, the muscles ect. Further he wished for a longitudinal sectional view he also could turn on and off. Two models had to me made to first show the patients parents how exactly their childs condition looks like from every angle, to ensure their full understanding of the Spina bifida Myelomeningocele. After explaining the current state he then can show the post operative model. Here he can explain how the surgery is preformed and what to expect of the outcome.

It defiantly was a challenge creating these models, because the existing illustrations of the condition where extremely flat and 2 dimensional and no help at all. The models had to be developed through conversations, sketches and lots of tweaking until they were exactly how the Professor imagined.  Nevertheless working with Prof. Dr. Meuli was a pleasure. He always was in a cheerful mood and his courage to innovation and to change the current state of mind in the field of surgery was extremely inspiering.  I learnt a huge amount and having the Professor using and presenting the models on his laptop exactly as he imagined in the very beginning was very rewarding.

A few captions of the 3d models:

Spina bifida
Post Surgery
Post Surgery
The work in progress
The model being used


More Articles in the Swissgerman media about Prof. Dr. Meuli and the Spina bifida:

Schockdiagnose – offener Rücken, TeleZüri

Der Sänger am Operationstisch,

Kinderchirurg Ein Künstler zwischen Oper und Operationssaal,

Martin Meuli zu Gast bei Aeschbacher,

Martin Meuli: Eine Begegnung mit dem Spitzenchirurgen am Kinderspital Zürich,


Medical Illustrations: Works in Progress Part 1

You might have seen some of my Illustration I did for the medical online platform  PharmaWiki is a independent and reliable information system on medical drugs and health for Switzerland. It contains over 24,000 pages and is constantly updated and improved by experts. The platform is visited by up to 30,000 users and is one of the largest and most visited health website of Switzerland.

I would like to explain to you how I’ve usually developed illustrations for pharmawiki. After I get the theme and some reference photos from the client I scrible out some layout ideas on paper and then digitaly create different black and white sketches. I prefer to bring different tonal value into the design at this stage. Then I will send the first drafts to the customer and work on with the feedback either on the sketchs or I’ll continue with the coloring the illustration. Depending on the topic, I prefer to render 3D elements I then proceed further in Photoshop. After a further exchange with the client I add, as a last step, the details like skin pores, hairs and if needed text and legendes.



windpockenThe final image for an article about chickenpox: