To create an anatomically accurate rendered, three dimensional model of the thoracic and lumbar spine for users to learn and appreciate certain aspects of neuraxial anesthesia access. The 3D interactive neuraxial model would allow the user to view the spine and its surrounding anatomy from different angles. This model would be interactive such that it would allow a simulated needle insertion to the neuraxial space and have visual feedback to direct the user to utilize appropriate angles and depths.
– Dr. A Sawka , Dr. R Tang (Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver BC)


Michael Corrin BFA BA HonsBSc MScBMC CMI (BMC)
Dr. Andrew Sawka BSc MD FRCPC (Clinical Associate Professor UBC | VGH Anesthesiology)
Dr. Raymond Tang BSc MSc MD FRCPC (Vancouver General Hospital | Dept of Anesthesiology)
David Mazierski BScAAM, MSc, CMI (2nd Voting Member)


July 2015


Vesalius Trust Research Grant 2015, Board of Governors of the Association of Medical Illustrators  – "Visual Communication in the Health Sciences award granted to Masters Research Project (SpineSIM: Creating an interactive 3D neuraxial blockade simulator in partnership with the Department of Anesthesiology at the Vancouver General Hospital)"


Research project background:

My proposed research project is to design and develop a prototype for a low-fidelity neuraxial blockade simulation that incorporates kinesthetic control – specifically, gestures natural to the procedure. To achieve this I will have to do the following:
1) Create 3D digital and 3D-printed models of the lumbar spine with associated overlying tissue based on the DICOM scans provided by the Vancouver General Hospital.
2) Create a physical simulation that links in real-time to a three-dimensional on-screen visualization of the spine and needle position. Leap Motion tracking will superimpose their movements onto
the digital lumbar spine.
2b) Create a physical model that permits the user to experience tactile feedback that is similar to inserting a needle into human tissue. 2c) Create a simulation of a 2D ultrasound image that is linked to the actions of the learner with the physical model, and provides supplementary information (e.g. labels) to help novice ultrasound users to better recognize anatomical structures.


• RESEARCH (Observership in the VAncouver General Hospital):

Summer of 2014 observership in the VGH OR following several surgeons for urology: anesthesiologist Dr. Tang demonstrated the process of 1.an epidural and 2.a spinal in real practice. Based off of their experiences, clinicians also discussed issues with current teaching methods and its differences between learning method and the operating room.

• Wireframing:

Creating a wireframe has two goals:
1. To determine the learning experience of the end user (target audience – novice clinicians). Creating a clean UI (user interface) for effective information flow, and determining what functions and platform to build upon.
2. Facilitating the interactive storyline to anticipate all user interactions with the simulator.


Several physical prototypes were created. It was not only important to optimize digital workflow, but also create a suitable process for creating the physical model. Decisions included committing to a specific mode of 3D printing and casting, as well as ensuring human-proportioned models (based off of DICOM data). I've included some of my field notes from the physical prototyping process: