Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pollitt's Laminitis Images Have a New Look: MIMICS Software Goes 3-D

by Fran Jurga | 27 September 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

The cover of the Proceedings of the 2009 laminitis conference is a compilation of images of one foot of a chronic laminitis case from the University of Queensland in Australia. The foot's CT scans were converted to 3-D images using Mimics software and the expertise of Dr. Simon Collins of the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, England. (Double-click on image for a larger view in a new window, but sorry that the web requires a low-resolution version of a very high-resolution form.)

When the end of the Fifth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot comes, attendees might remember proportionately less of what they heard...and more of what they saw.

The heightened visual aspect of the exciting biennial conference, which will be held November 6-8 in West Palm Beach, Florida, may lie in the technology side of things, but the impact will be an eyeful that everyone can appreciate.

Leave it to Dr. Chris Pollitt (photo inset at left), assistant director of the conference, to bring the latest and greatest technology to the conference and to enhance his presentations.

The new software is called MIMICS; it is made by a Belgian company called Materialise NV. In a nutshell, MIMICS converts CT scans into three-dimensional forms. I've also seen it used to model a nasal cavity for a surgery case at Cornell's vet school, and for a comparative study of the soft tissue structures of equine feet at Auburn University. Dr. Pollitt says that MIMICS software is used extensively for human skeletal reconstruction surgery and prosthetic implant design and simulation.

"Suddenly I can 'see' an individual horse’s foot from all angles and can virtually dissect it on the computer monitor," Dr Pollitt wrote in the Proceedings.

MIMICS was introduced to Dr Pollitt and to the world of laminitis by British hoof anatomy researcher Dr Simon Collins. Dr Collins will be in Palm Beach to explain how he uses computer modeling in his work at the Animal Health Trust, where he collaborates with lameness experts Drs Rachel Murray and Sue Dyson. His images will be dazzling.

Dr Pollitt wrote in his introductory essay in the Proceedings, "Analyses of feet with chronic laminitis clearly show that distorted tubular hoof growth, lamellar wedge formation and solar loading of the distal phalanx are relentlessly destructive to bone. It behooves laminitis caregivers to understand the unmitigated, severe chronic process and develop proactive, early intervention strategies that will measurably arrest the process. MIMICS in the hands of laminitis scientists will aid this process."

Does anyone besides me see great irony in the way that Dr Pollitt over the years has created stunning visual images of the terribly destructive disease of laminitis? The quality of his images is always worthy of Scientific American or National Geographic and yet the subject is the disease we all dread. Thanks to his artistic eye we all know what laminitis looks like, even though it's the disease we'd most like to see wiped off the equine map.

NOTE: The deadline for registration for the conference has been pushed back to September 28th, since the mail has been so slow in getting the brochures and registration forms to everyone. Brochures were sent to all subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Also, a reduced rate for two-person registrations has been added. Visit for more information.

Credit: Individual cover images were created by Dr. Simon Collins of the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, England using MIMICS software, and are used with permission; they illustrate pathology on the “Bronski” chronic laminitis case studied by Dr. Chris Pollitt at the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit in 2009. Cover montage and design by Fran Jurga will be published with Proceedings of the Fifth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot in West Palm Beach, Florida November 6-8, 2009.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to


2horseygirls said...

Thank you for always posting the most interesting and informative aspects of hoofcare.

Do you know if this technology has made it to the US yet?


Fran Jurga said...

Hello, and thanks for your comment.

I don't know much about the Mimics company but I know they are very strong in the human medical field and that there US office is HQ'd in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I don't think there has been much crossover to vet med yet. I have seen a use of Mimics on a nasal cavity of a horse at Cornell vet school and an interesting hoof study is underway using the software on cadaver feet at Auburn. I hope to be reporting on that soon!