Food in medical illustration

We’ve heard of Roma tomatoes but I couldn’t help see a stoma on the underside of this heirloom tomato I recently picked from my backyard garden.  This anomaly from the raised garden bed struck a pun with me. So let’s call it a stoma tomato.

I’ve done a number of Urologic surgical illustrations. Some of them include a stoma as part of the solution to removing cancerous bladders or colons.

A stoma is an opening, either natural or surgically created, which connects a portion of the body cavity to the outside environment. Surgical procedures in which stomata are created are ended in the suffix -ostomy and begin with a prefix denoting the organ or area being operated on. Some examples of ostomies are colostomy, urostomy, and tracheostomy.

photo courtesy of

Part of series for Cutaneous Continence Pouch: Note the small section of ileum that acts as a conduit between the ureter from the kidney to the stoma, or exit to the urostomy.

My wife made some gluten-free brownies right at the same time I was in need of illustrating the development of a “black eschar” for a Below Knee Amputation legal exhibit. I snapped a few photos of the freshly baked brownies and they worked out to be very helpful “patterns” for use when rendering the illustration in Adobe Photoshop. Here’s a look at the photo of the brownies:

Yes, gluten free brownies.

Gluten free brownies employed as a pattern overlay effects layer in Adobe Photoshop.

The brownie texture application reminded me of when I first used food as a pattern overlay in medical illustration. David Ehlert of Cognition Studio gave me the idea and was very generous to share his scan of that peculiar Ethiopian bread called injara? The delicate matrix texture in injara similarily appears in bone tissue and is known as cancellous bone, or spongy bone.

photo courtesy of Stephanie Cedeño.

photo courtesy of David Ehlert, Cognition Studio

One thought on “Food in medical illustration

  1. Great post. I’ve been volunteering for a neuropathologist and while the analogies drawn are not as exactly visually correlated with foods (that is, the visual similarities are not as striking as in the examples in your post), I’ve been comparing striatum tissue to bacon and hippocampus tissue sections to cinnamon rolls…

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