Hayley Reynolds (Auckland Bioengineering Institute) discusses two features of her 3D model – heat maps and the skin selection tool – both developed using data from over 5,000 patients.
Heat map image with kind permission of Hayley Reynolds and Elsevier Ltd (published in The Lancet Oncology - Vol. 8, Issue 9, September 2007, Pages 806-812, Three-dimensional visualisation of lymphatic drainage patterns in patients with cutaneous melanoma
Hayley M Reynolds, Rod Dunbar, Roger F Uren, Shane A Blackett, John F Thompson, Nicolas P Smith)
The heat maps are 3D visualisation of some of the lymphoscintigraphy data that I have mapped onto my skin model, and what the heat maps are showing is the likelihood that an area of skin is going to spread to a particular lymph node area. So what I've been able to do is take all of the data from over 5,000 patients that have been treated in Sydney, map them onto my model and then look at possible drainage patterns from any area of human skin. So a doctor would be able to come and have a look at the model and determine which lymph node is this melanoma site likely to spread to.
The heat maps themselves don't tell you how many melanoma sites there are in each region, but we do have supplementary images that can show doctors which areas have more data and which areas don't have much data, so they know where they can be more confident.
I‘ve also developed a skin selection tool, so I developed software a doctor can use. What they are able to do is click on an area of skin, anywhere on the body, and then potential lymph node fields where the melanoma site might spread to from that area of the skin will light up. So they can click on the back and see, okay, if someone has a melanoma site here, it could spread to both armpits, it could also spread to the groin. And then within that software tool, it actually shows you how many patients have been sampled in that particular area of the skin. So a doctor would know whether there is more data or less data, and how certain they should be about it.