A TEAM of veterinary researchers is putting the finishing touches on a ‘visible dog’ software program that reveals the insides of man's best friend.
Researchers from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, USA who created an interactive Glass Horse in the 1990s, plan to release a dog CD-ROM this autumn.
Just as with humans, animal cadavers aren't always available, and students often have to study preserved body parts instead. Additionally, the study of treatment of specific disorders often comes long after students dissect animals during anatomy lessons, said Dr. Jim Moore, a University of Georgia veterinary medicine professor.
‘In a lot of what you do as a veterinarian, you've got to be able to envision what's going on inside the animal, because they obviously can't tell you,’ Moore said. ‘As a teacher I got frustrated. A lot of the things I could see were difficult to get across to the veterinary students. You never know if they're seeing the same things that you are.’
‘The students can finally see what's happening, what organs are being pushed aside, how the intestines are twisting,’ said Flint Buchanan, a 3-D animator at the University of Georgia.
In addition to helping students understand general anatomy, the 3-D depictions help them do a better job of figuring out dual X-ray images from different angles.
Over time, the 3-D depictions in new editions of the horse CD-ROMs, which cost $50 or $80 each, have become more sophisticated. Now, graphic designers use Maya software to create the animations. The improvements are quite noticeable, Moore said. ‘The difference is like that between a Porky Pig cartoon and Finding Nemo, something that's flat and something that looks like it could be real.’
The new dog program, however, offers a limited view of Rover's insides. The first interactive canine CD-ROM will focus on the dog's abdomen and thorax. Future projects may explore other parts of dog bodies.