Francois Luks –
Illustrating the fetus is one of the most difficult subjects, because of its inaccessibility. For centuries, artists have represented images of unborn children, but their subject was usually an autopsy –or a newborn baby “disguised” as a fetus. Fetal imaging, on the other hand, is ubiquitous. In addition to gray-scale and 3D ultrasound, fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is increasingly common. Today, the computing power to manipulate these images and provide 3D reconstructions, volume rendering and navigational modeling, allows one to choose the optimal viewing angle to convey the most information. Unfortunately, volume rendering of a single imaging study is limited by the level of resolution, motion artifacts and other technical imperfections. The combination of science and art offers the best of both worlds: high-tech medical imaging and artisanal illustration can work together to produce faithful representations of the fetus in its natural environment, in poses and orientations that are optimally useful for the viewer.
[Keywords for this session: fetal medicine, fetal surgery, spina bifida, conjoined twins, 3D imaging, volume rendering]
Francois Luks is a pediatric and fetal surgeon at Hasbro Children’s and Rhode Island Hospital, and a professor of Surgery, Pediatrics and Obstetrics & Gynecology at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He dabbles in watercolors, used to draw a comic strip and teaches classes in medical illustration for first-year medical students and undergrad students at Brown.