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Master's Research Project

liver airbag invention joao rezende-neto katrina hass mrp master research project bmc marc dryer michael corrin

The Liver Airbag

A Novel Surgical Tool for

Liver Trauma Management

Using 3D animation to educate medical professionals about a novel device for liver trauma management.

Supervisory Committee

Professor Marc Dryer

Biomedical Communications, University of Toronto


Professor Michael Corrin

Biomedical Communications, University of Toronto

Content Expert

Dr. Joao Rezende-Neto

Department  of General/Trauma Acute Care Surgery, St. Michael’s Hospital



Medical professionals


Autodesk Maya, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Illustrator, 3D Slicer


3D animation

A novel surgical device used for liver trauma management known as the liver airbag was developed by Dr. Joao Rezende-Neto. The liver is the most frequently injured organ in abdominal trauma and the current medical practice used to control liver hemorrhage faces significant problems. This new device is a transparent, non-adherent inflatable bag designed to surround the liver and control bleeding. It was awarded the Keenan Biomedical Innovation Award by Angels Den in 2019.


The implementation of novel surgical devices into current medical practice requires the device to be properly educated to medical professionals. Additionally, surgeons must also be convinced that the newer device is superior to current methods in order for it to be used. This Master's Research Project will combine research from the fields of education and advertising in order to create a 3D animation that will not only inform but compel surgeons to action and to adopt the liver airbag device.

In addition to contributing to an important emerging innovation that can significantly improve trauma patient outcomes, this project will guide future developments in 3D animations for medical device education. Previously, animation has been used for the purpose of education or advertising. This project proposes using elements from these two fields to effectively help innovations become implemented into current practice.

This project was awarded the

Vesalius Trust Research Grant 2021 

The Vesalius Trust for Visual Communication in the Health Sciences is a a non-profit public foundation that supports scholarships, research grants, and continuing professional education for exceptional contributions to medical education.

Vesalius Trust Research Grant, Association of Medical Illustrators health sciences

The Process

The design process is an iterative one, with many feedback meetings with my supervisors and content advisors. To see a breakdown of the production schedule, click here.​





  • Research and gather resources

  • Define project objectives

  • Define the needs of the client

  • Create script, storyboard, and animatic

  • Add a storytelling touch



  • Create the animation

  • Prototype and work through animation problems



  • Review with supervisors and content advisors

  • Implement feedback




The first step of the process was conducting research on both 1) the area of scientific visualization related to educational surgical animation, and 2) the novel liver airbag device and liver trauma management in general. 

1) A literature review and media audit was conducted to identify effective attributes of educational media and in advertisement. These attributes combined served as a guide for the project’s animation design. One key finding that was discovered while researching the challenges of implementing surgical devices into current medical practice was that surgeons often cited ease of learning as a key determining factor in the adoption of a new device. 

2) Resources and data concerning the design of the liver airbag and related anatomy were gathered. Reference images were collected and research was conducted on liver trauma management, specifically the perihepatic packing method.

Project Objectives

Next, a project proposal was written which defined the project objectives, as well as identified the specific needs of the client (content advisor). This was a key step because this would define the direction of the project and highlight the specific goals that were to be achieved with the animation. To read the full project proposal, click here.

1) Research techniques and practices proven to be effective in the field of multimedia education and communication. Research in the field of advertising/marketing that will guide design for compelling viewers to adopt the device and technique.

2) Develop recommended guidelines based on the aforementioned research for the production of the 3D animation.

3) Create a 3D animation that teaches surgeons how to use a novel device for liver trauma management and convinces them to adopt the device into their own practice.

4) Investigate the efficacy of the animation through an expertise-based evaluation that will be given to surgeons to assess their preferences and perceptions.

Animation Objectives

educate teach present icon

Educate surgeons on how to use the device.

engage conversation hands up icon

Engage surgeons while they watch the animation.

convince icon people

Convince surgeons to adopt the device into their own practice.


This part of the process is where I really got to flex my creativity. To make the animation engaging, I knew I had to implement a storytelling technique into it. I wanted to first present the problems that are faced during traditional liver trauma management methods, and follow it up with an introduction of the new liver airbag. Doing so would allow for the story to flow nicely and allow me to compare the new device to traditional methods - an important comparison that may help to achieve the goal of convincing surgeons to adopt the liver airbag into their own practice.


After receiving sign off by my supervisors on the script for the animation, I began visualizing my ideas on paper by storyboarding (a visual representation of how the animation will unfold). To view a PDF version of the finalized storyboards, click here.



storyboards mrp katrina hass mscbmc sketch

Initial rough draft

storyboards liver airbag surgical device animation illustration katrina hass
storyboards katrina hass animation medical illustration thumbnails

Finalized storyboards


These storyboards were then made into an animatic, using Adobe After Effects. A scratch narration was also recorded by me, to provide an idea of how the timing of each shot in the animation would play out.

Creating the Animation 

This part of the project is currently in development. Check back later to see progress!



3d slicer liver anatomy model katrina hass
3d model anatomy
wireframe liver maya autodesk anatomy topology

The Final Animation

View the full animation here:



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