Case Study: OLIF25 Spinal Procedure Explainer Video

Dave Grossman | April 20, 2021

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Medical animations involve complex systems, movements, and interactions between elements. That’s for the simple stuff! Medtronic’s OLIF25 procedure is a complex approach designed to help preserve the patient’s psoas muscle during L2-L5 surgeries. This medical animation was designed to clearly and concisely illustrate how this procedure is used.

The OLIF25 procedure involves consideration for several anatomical structures including the spine, psoas muscles, femoral nerves, and several other objects. This project’s goal was to efficiently create representations of all these systems and structures and how the OLIF25 procedure relates to them. It was tricky—but our 3d animation studio was ready for the challenge!

Surgical Location

medtronic olif medical animation side overlay

This visualization helps immediately draw attention to the location at which this surgical procedure is relevant

This side view of a hypothetical patient reveals the area of the spine at which the OLIF25 procedure is applicable. The overlayed anatomical structures help immediately convey the relationship of this procedure to the spine and the psoas muscle groups. Our animation team used masking animations and well-placed gradient maps to help create this effect quickly and effectively.

3D Skeletal Visualization

medtronic olif medical animation psoas muscle anatomy

A more isolated view brings attention for the OLIF25 procedure to a more anatomical conversation

The OLIF25 procedure by Medtronic is an internal one. This project’s goal was to visualize complex considerations and relationships between skeletal and tissue. This initial visualisation showcases an externalized imaging of where the OLIF25 procedure takes place. This helped meet the goal of focusing on the procedure’s surgical technical challenges rather than post-operative consideration.

Detailed Animation of Surgical Procedure

medtronic olif medical animation oblique coorido tool locationr animation

Visualizing the surgeon’s involvement and tool placement

After setting the stage in terms of locational awareness, the project began visualizing the actions taken by the surgeon. This vertical cutaway isolates where the surgeon’s focus is directed as well as tool placement. One of this project’s challenges was to communicate a great number of steps in a limited number of frames. To meet this goal, our animation team made use of image overlays to increase informational density.

Complex Systems Rendering

medtronic olif medical animation gentofemoral nerve

In-depth visualization of spinal structure and associated nerve tissues

The human body isn’t nearly as tidy in real life as it is in textbooks and 3d Medical animations. One of the challenges of this project was to clearly discuss multiple structures simultaneously without obfuscation. To achieve this goal, our animation team made use of translucent materials, revolving camera angles, and overlaid text labeling. This help pack in as much vital information per scene as possible—lowering project cost and time.


The OLIF25 procedure was designed to help surgeons operate on patient spinal columns with less risk to neurological and orthopedic post-operative issues. This medical animation was designed to help educate surgeons about the process, how the procedure is applied, and the many considerations it addresses. Our animation studio was able to pack a dense amount of information into a short, concise video conveying the essential details. Reach out to our 3D team for more information on how this video was created.

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