A cut plane is a two-dimensional slice positioned in a three-dimensional volume that allows the user to cut-away or “hide” sections of visualized data. Think of it as cutting a cake down the center and removing half to reveal the internal structures of the cake at that slice. Cut planes are often used by physicians and researchers to better visualize complex anatomical structures that would otherwise be obscured from view in 3D. They are a common tool used in medical 3D imaging and are useful for diagnosis, treatment planning, surgical planning/navigation, and medical education.
The location, angle, and field of depth (thickness) of a cut plane can be manipulated in real-time by users, and does not require segmentation to be performed beforehand. This lack of segmentation results in a more accurate visualization of the source data and faster navigation in 3D space. Different rendering modes can be applied along-side a cut plane to enhance the area of interest, such full-color for different tissue types or structures, transparency for overlapping or intertwined structures, or grayscale to match the source DICOM data.
Figure A (Right): A cross-sectional video demonstrating a cut-plane rotating around the chest, exposing the internal structures.
Figure B: Grey-scale cut plane of the chest.
Figure C: 3D view of a stroke forming in the carotid arteries. A cut-plane is created to hide the vessels that are obstructing the view and create a cross-section cut of the area in question.