Medical-Legal Trial Exhibits

Working with a medical illustrator

Why choose a medical illustrator?

Medical illustrators are professional artists with extensive training in medicine, science, communication and media technology and hold advanced degrees from universities affiliated with medical schools. As visualization specialists, they create imagery that advances medical science knowledge and empowers health literacy for patients and the public. They have the medical and scientific knowledge to grasp complex information, distil it down and communicate the story in a clear visual narrative that is accurate, educational and engaging. Medical illustration is a relatively exclusive field: although the need for their services is great, there is just a small cadre of these highly educated artists in practice. The Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) estimates that there are 2,000 practitioners in North America.

What can a medical illustrator do for my case?

A medical illustrator is able to review medical records, depositions, and medical imaging and translate that information into images that are easily understood by a layperson (figure 1). A high quality, medical illustration or timeline is an investment in your case. Customized drawings that simplify and clarify the mechanism of injury or help a lay person to understand what is happening in an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI can result in higher settlements or increased verdicts. (Medical illustrations, pound for pound, may be the best investment you make in your case.)

Why textbook images won’t do the job

While anatomical images from textbooks are great for educating anatomy students, they are not always the best way to educate a lay person who will most likely have a much more limited knowledge of anatomy. A custom medical illustration designed specifically for your case can highlight exactly the information that you and your physician want to communicate.

The problem with x-rays and other imaging

Like textbook images, X-rays, CT Scans, and MRIs are great for physicians and their support teams who know what they are looking at but to the untrained eye, they can be confusing. A medical illustrator can provide medical film interpretation (figure 2) to make these images understandable to a lay audience.

Illustrations vs. exhibits

An accurate medical illustration, created in cooperation with your physician or expert witness, is more than just an illustration, it becomes a medical exhibit and can be used in personal injury cases to maximize the value of the case, enhance settlement negotiations, increase the effectiveness of medical expert testimony and maximize trial presentation.

Working with a medical illustrator

The best illustrations for your case will be created by a team consisting of the physician, the attorney, and the illustrator.

The illustrator needs to know your plan for the case and needs information about the case to be able to understand the injury, the sequence of medical treatment, and the final results. This is usually done by an initial consultation with the attorney and then a review of the medical records, depositions, and any medical imaging that is available. From this, the illustrator can determine how best to show the injury to the jury.

The illustrator will then write up a proposed list of exhibits which you can discuss with your expert. When you and your expert have reviewed and approved the proposal the illustrator will begin work.

The next item you will receive from your illustrator will be pencil drawings of the decided upon exhibits. (figure 3). These should be reviewed by the physician who will sign off on the medical accuracy of the exhibits. This is a good time for the physician to make recommendations about changes that may need to be made. A good medical illustration is often a bit of a back and forth process between the attorney, the physician, and the illustrator. At times it may be helpful for the illustrator to communicate directly with the physician or to meet with both the attorney and the physician simultaneously. If sketches have been thoroughly reviewed, changes to final artwork should be unnecessary or minimal.

Once the physician and the attorney sign off on the pencils the illustrator can get to work on the final, full-color, illustrations (figure 4).

When complete, final artwork is submitted for your review. Upon approval, high-resolution files will be sent to the printer to produce exhibit boards and lower resolution files, suitable for projection, will be sent to the attorney.


Make MedDraw Studio your local source for high-quality medical exhibits. For a free consultation on your next case, call 614-226-0163 or email

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