Although our bodies are primarily made out of water, on most days we don’t feel that way. Skin feels elastic, muscles are bouncy and bones feel rock-solid – and occasionally they all feel rubbery when a case of the nerves strikes. The balance of fluids in our bodies is a remarkable product of our evolution and one that’s easy to overlook.

When INVIVO was approached to create the animations and artwork for the Fluid Management Interactive microsite for and Fresenius-Kabi Canada, we had a mandate to make edema (fluid imbalance) more easily understood. Our team created information-rich animations about edema in the kidneys, gut and tissues; and illustrations for edema of the heart, lungs, brain and liver.

Consequences of Fluid Overload on Tissues: Kidney – One of the animations we created for the microsite.


Consequences of Fluid Overload on Tissues: Heart – One of the illustrated information modules we created for the microsite.

For many healthcare professionals, there is a lack of awareness as to how an imbalance of fluid can affect organs around the body. This educational module is presented on a publicly-accessible site, aimed at enhancing understanding irrespective of the audience’s familiarity with fluid imbalance. The goal was to create memorable information.

Visualizing fluid moving through tissues and creating pressure on organs and organ function presented some unique challenges. For one, the effect edema has on the body isn’t pretty. “Animating the ‘swelling feet’ sequence for the Tissues video brought home that I’m not a doctor: Some of the images I researched were pretty far outside my experience,” recalls Mike Kennedy, one of our animators.

Working closely with the doctors and medical scientists at the storyboard stage is crucial on a project like this. Animation has to not only include realistic representations of bodily processes, it also needs to edit out extraneous information for the sake of communicating about edema clearly. The combination of static illustrations with dynamic animation gives readers a full picture of the dangers of fluid overload in the body.

To see all of the animations and illustrations we created for this project, visit Ukidney: the Internet School of Nephrology and the Consequences of Fluid Overload microsite. Follow them on Twitter @ukidney.