Dr. rer. nat. Karl Heinz Höhne

Professor and Director Emeritus
Institute of Medical Informatics
University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf

c/o VOXEL-MAN Group
House W 26, Martinistraße 52,
20246 Hamburg, Germany

Phone: + 49 (40) 7410-54831
e-mail: hoehne@uke.de

Curriculum vitae


Scientific work

Höhne's entire scientific work was from the beginning devoted to the acquisition, processing and visualization of images by computers. Already in his PhD thesis in the field of elementary particle physics in 1967 he developed a device for digitization and analysis of photographs of particle tracks recorded by spark chambers [1].

Still as a physicist at the Deutsches Elektronensynchrotron DESY he changed to applications of computers in medicine. His first project was the development of a data processing system for the clinical laboratory that brought the first computer at all to the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.

His work in medical imaging began in 1972 with the analysis of scintigraphic image sequences. With his coworkers he created complete hardware (including what we call today a graphics card) and software for quantitation of blood perfusion in organs such as the brain or the lung. [ 2]. The novel system was in routine clinical use for five years.

Encouraged by this success he developed, again from scratch a system for analysis of angiographic image sequences with the intention of quantification of blood flow [3]. The hardware for real-time acquisition of 128 images with 256x256 pixels was unprecedented at that time. Also, the developed high level software tools made the development and use of the system easy. While the software, e. g. a special language for image management [4], were ahead of their time, the clinical results were unsatisfactory, because X-ray images did not allow quantitative results of sufficient accuracy, despite of the beauty of the created functional images.

In 1984 he and his coworkers (the "VOXEL-MAN team") started with pioneering work in the 3D visualization from cross-sectional images from CT and MRT. The gray level gradient algorithm first published by him [5] allowed for the first the creation of realistic 3D surfaces from cross-sectional image sequences. The first virtual dissections of the created volume models from MRI and the first realistic reconstruction of the brain of a living patient were highlights at the RSNA Meetings in Chicago 1986 [6] and 1987 [7]. Likewise reconstruction of a 3D model of a beating heart from 4D MRI data at RSNA 1988 was unprecedented [8].

In 1990 Höhne's algorithm which has become the standard for 3D-rendering of volumetric image data in medicine was implemented in the Siemens Magnetom tomograph. While the created images looked attractive it was not certain, whether they reflect reality. So the VOXEL-MAN team carried out extensive refinements of their accuracy and adequacy for different applications, indispensable for serious applications [9, 10].

Since around 1990 a broad application of 3D imaging in clinical work was limited by the unsolved segmentation problem, Höhne and his team put their emphasis on applications in education and simulation. He developed a framework for integration anatomic and radiological image data with descriptive knowledge [11]. The thus gained possibility of navigating back and forth in spatial and symbolic knowledge was first implemented in the VOXEL-MAN Brain and Skull atlas as the first one of its kind in 1995 [14].

It turned out that the virtually infinite ways of browsing through the knowledge was not adequate for learners. However, it was a perfect tool for creating interactive teaching material. So in 1998 the VOXEL-Man 3D Navigator Brain and Skull (previously VOXEL-MAN Junior ) was created and published by Springer (now available for free download).

When in 1996 the Visible Human Data Set with its 1871 photographic and CT-cross-sections became available Höhne and his team extended the 3D rendering algorithms to color image data. The developed algorithms created 3D models of unprecedented realism -. they are still the state of the art [12]. On their basis the VOXEL-MAN Navigator interactive atlas of the anatomy and radiology of the inner organs was developed and published in 2000 by Springer (now available for free download).



The value of 3D volume models was greatly enhanced when the VOXEL-MAN team developed algorithms for material removal combined with haptic feeback [13]. On this basis in 2003 the first prototype of a middle ear surgery simulator ever was presented. In 2005 it became as VOXEL-MAN Tempo a commercial product. It was followed by simulators for sinus surgery and teeth drilling. All three are now marketed worldwide by the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf [15] .


The novel pictures of VOXEL-MAN became an attraction also beyond medicine. So they were 1994 in the center of the exhibition "Le Corps Virtuel " [16] at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

With the Department of Egyptology of the University of Hamburg Höhne created in 1989 the first realistic 3D reconstructions of a mummy's head. The web presentation "The Virtual Mummy" [17] was around 2000 the most visited one of the University Medical Center Hamburg -Eppendorf.

Because of their graphic quality beyond medicine pictures of the VOXEL-MAN project became in 1992 part of the SIGGGRAPH technical slide set.

At the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the X-rays the VOXEL-Man team created the animation "Professor Roentgen meets the Virtual Body" [18], illustrating the history from X-rays to virtual body models - entirely computed with the VOXEL-MAN software.

In 2000 in a cooperation with the Department of Veterinary Medicine of the Ludwigs-Maxilians- University in Munich the VOXEL-MAN concept was transferred to the Visible Animal Project [19]

Hoehne also created compositions with Leonardo da Vinci's famous drawings as shown in a poster at the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality Conference 2008. A lot of journals used images created in the VOXEL-MAN project as front covers.

Activities in academia

Höhne was supervisor of a large number of both PhD and medical doctoral theses in medical image computing both at the medical school and the department of computer science at the University of Hamburg.

Apart from teaching and scientific work Höhne was active in organizing scientific communication in his field. Already in 1981 he organized the International Meeting Digital Imaging in Medicine. In 1984 he ran the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Pictorial Information Systems in Medicine in 1990 and 3D Imaging in Medicine in 1990. In 1996 he organized the 4th Conference on Visualization in Biomedical Computing.

He is one of the founders of the Society for Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI), was its board Member for many years and is fellow of the society. After his retirement he served MICCAI for several years as organizer of the yearly MICCAI student award and as honorary election officer.

He has retired from his duties as Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging and as editorial board member of several international scientific journals.

Since 2004, the Visual Computing in Biology and Medicine group of the German Association of Computer Science (GI) awards every two years the Karl-Heinz Höhne Award for outstanding work in the area of Visual Computing in Biology and Medicine.

List of publications

Selected Publications

[1] U Becker, K Dahlmann, K Hoehne, J Weber, JH Smith
AUTOMATIC PROCESSING OF SPARK CHAMBER PICTURES AT DESY. International Conference on Programming for Flying Spot Devices (1967) 24-32
s [2] W Ebenritter, KH Höhne
Display controller for the interactive analysis of scintigrams with a PDP-8 computer Kerntechnik, 15, 3 /1973) 499-502
KH Höhne, G Pfeiffer
The Role of the Physician-Computer Interaction Interpretation of Scintigraphic Data
Methods of information in medicine 13 (02), 65-70
d [3] GC Nicolae, KH Höhne
Multiprocessor system for real time digital processing of video image series
it - Information Technology 21,4 (1979)171-183

KH Höhne, M Böhm, W Erbe, GC Nicolae, G Pfeiffer, B Sonne
Computer angiography: a new tool for x-ray functional diagnostics Sonne Medical progress through technology 6, 1 ( 1978), 23-28

[4] K Assmann, R Venema, KH Höhne
The ISQL Language
(Shi-Kuo Chang Ed.)Visual Languages, (1986) 261-284


[5] Karl Heinz Höhne, Ralph Bernstein: Shading 3D-images from CT using gray level gradients . IEEE Trans. Med. Imaging 5, 1 (1986), 45-47.

Karl Heinz Höhne, Ralph Bernstein: Correction to "Shading 3D-images from CT using gray level gradients " . IEEE Trans. Med. Imaging 5, 3 (1986), 165.

  [6] Karl Heinz Höhne, Martin Riemer, Ulf Tiede, Martin Heller, Gerd Witte: Three-dimensional investigation of tomographic volumes (CT and MR). Radiology 161, P (1986), 378. (Abstract, exhibit at RSNA 1986), Poster
  [7] Karl Heinz Höhne, Ulf Tiede, Martin Riemer, Michael Bomans, Martin Heller, Gerd Witte: Static and dynamic three-dimensional display of tissue structures from volume scans. Radiology 165, P (1987), 420. (Abstract, exhibit at RSNA 1987), Poster [8] Karl Heinz Höhne, Michael Bomans, Andreas Pommert, Martin Riemer, Ulf Tiede, Gerd Witte: Dynamic three-dimensional display of the beating heart from four-dimensional MR imaging data. Radiology 169, P (1988), 472. (Abstract, exhibit at RSNA 1988).

[9] Karl Heinz Höhne, Martin Riemer, Ulf Tiede: Viewing operations for 3D-tomographic gray level data. In Heinz U. Lemke et al. (eds.): Computer Assisted Radiology, Proc. CAR '87, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1987, 599-609.

Karl Heinz Höhne, Robert L. DeLaPaz, Ralph Bernstein, Robert C. Taylor: Combined surface display and reformatting for the 3D-analysis of tomographic data. Invest. Radiol. 22 (1987), 658-664.

[10] Ulf Tiede, Karl Heinz Höhne, Michael Bomans, Andreas Pommert, Martin Riemer, Gunnar Wiebecke: Investigation of medical 3D-rendering algorithms. IEEE Comput. Graphics Appl. 10, 2 (1990), 41-53.

[11] Karl Heinz Höhne, Bernhard Pflesser, Andreas Pommert, Martin Riemer, Thomas Schiemann, Rainer Schubert, Ulf Tiede: A new representation of knowledge concerning human anatomy and function . Nature Med. 1, 6 (1995), 506-511.

Ulf Tiede, Michael Bomans, Karl Heinz Höhne, Andreas Pommert, Martin Riemer, Thomas Schiemann, Rainer Schubert, Werner Lierse: A computerized three-dimensional atlas of the human skull and brain. Am. J. Neuroradiology 14, 3 (1993), 551-559.

Dale A. Charletta: A Computerized Three-Dimensional Atlas of the Human Skull and Brain. American Journal of Neuroradiology 14 (3) (1993) 560-561 (Commentary)


[12] Ulf Tiede, Thomas Schiemann, Karl Heinz Höhne: High quality rendering of attributed volume data . In David Ebert et al. (eds.): Proc. IEEE Visualization '98. Research Triangle Park, NC, 1998, 255-262. (ISBN 0-8186-9176-X).

Thomas Schiemann, Ulf Tiede, Karl Heinz Höhne: Segmentation of the Visible Human for high quality volume based visualization . Med. Image Anal. 1, 4 (1997), 263-271.


[13] Bernhard Pflesser, Andreas Petersik, Ulf Tiede, Karl Heinz Höhne, Rudolf Leuwer: Volume cutting for virtual petrous bone surgery. Comput. Aided Surg. 7, 2 (2002), 74-83.

Andreas Petersik, Bernhard Pflesser, Ulf Tiede, Karl Heinz Höhne, Rudolf Leuwer: Realistic haptic interaction in volume sculpting for surgery simulation . In Nicholas Ayache, Hervé Delingette (eds.): Surgery Simulation and Soft Tissue Modeling, Proc. IS4TM 2003, Lect. Notes Comput. Sci. 2673, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2003, 194-202.


Andreas Pommert: Dreidimensionale Darstellung altägyptischer Mumien aus computertomographischen Bildfolgen. In Rosemarie Drenkhahn, Renate Germer (Hrsg.): Mumie und Computer, Kestner-Museum, Hannover, 1991, 19-20.

Karl Heinz Höhne: Virtual Mummies: Unwrapped by the click of a mouse. In Renate Germer (ed.): Mummies: Life after death in ancient Egypt, Prestel, München, 1997, 118-120. (see also The Virtual Mummy )


[14] Karl Heinz Höhne et al. VOXEL-MAN Brain and Skull The novel Hypermedia system for UNIX workstations, Springer 1995, ISBN3-540-1417-6 (Movie).

Karl Heinz Höhne et al. VOXEL-MAN Junior Brain and Skull, Anatomy and Radiology in Virtual Reality Scenes, Springer 1998, ISBN 3-540-14676-8..

Karl Heinz Höhne et al. VOXEL-MAN Navigator Inner Organs, Regional, Systemic and Radiological Anatomy, Springer 2000, ISBN 3-540-14759-4 (download)

Karl Heinz Höhne et al. VOXEL-MAN Navigator Brain and Skull, Regional, Functional and Radiological Anatomy, Springer 2001, ISBN3-540-14910-4, 2009, ISBN 978-3-642-01211-2. (download)

Karl Heinz Höhne et al. VOXEL-MAN Navigator Brain and Skull, Regional, Functional and Radiological Anatomy, 2000, ISBN 7-980042-10-7 (Chinese version)

Karl Heinz Höhne et al. VOXEL-MAN Navigator Upper Limb, Regional and Radiological Anatomy, Springer 2008, ISBN 978-3-540-21010-8.

E. Burmester, T. Leineweber, Ulf Tiede et al.
EUS meets VOXEL-MAN – ein virtuelles Trainingsprogramm für den endoskopischen longitudinalen Ultraschall



c .


VOXEL-MAN ENT (Temporal Bone, Sinus)
Temporal Bone and Sinus Surgery Simulator

Dental Training Simulator

For the general public    

"Le corps virtuel", Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, Paris 1994
Article in "Le Monde"

s "Professor Roentgen Meets the Virtual Body", 1994, a movie animated with the VOXEL-MAN system, created at the occasion of the 100th anniversary of X-ray discovery.
d [[18] "The Virtual Mummy", a set of interactive scenes created for the exhibition "The Secret of the Mummies - Eternal Life at the Nile", Hamburg, 1997
s [19] Peter Böttcher, Johann Maierl, Thomas Schiemann, Cristian Glaser, Renate Weller, Karl Heinz Höhne, Maximilian Reiser, Hans-Georg Liebich: The Visible Animal Project: A three-dimensional digital database for high quality three-dimensional reconstructions . Vet. Radiol. Ultrasound 40, 6 (1999), 611-616.
s "VOXEL-MAN - the Virtual Patient", a presentation summarizing the achievements of the VOXEL-MAN project, 2016