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Curved cross-sections extracted from medical volume images are useful for analyzing nonplanar anatomic structures such as the aorta arch or the pelvis. For visualization and for performing distance measurements, extracted surface sections need to be adequately flattened. We present two different distance preserving surface flattening methods which preserve distances according to a user-specified center of interest and according to user-specified orientations. The first method flattens surface sections by preserving distances along surface curves located within planes having a user specified constant orientation. The second method flattens surfaces along curves located within radial planes crossing the center of interest. We study and compare the properties of the two flattening methods by analyzing their distortion maps. Thanks to a multiresolution approach, we provide surface flattening at interactive rates, allowing users to displace their focus point while visualizing the resulting flattened surface. These distance preserving flattening methods provide new means of inspecting curved cross-sections extracted from medical images.