3D printed body parts help doctors better prepare for real surgeries
A 3D template may be worth a hundred pictures. Doctors from Boston Children’s Hospital perform surgeries with templates of high resolution that they 3D printed using patients’ MRI or CT scans. These scans illustrate peculiar anatomy of each child. These templates can be used by doctors to practice their skills before they perform real surgeries on real children and can be viewed as a guide for treating a child in the course of the operation. When doctors can predict what will happen, they can reduce time required for surgeries.
In February 2014, the hospital established its own 3D printing service. This service allows doctors create any 3D printing model in quite a short time. Such a service appeared thanks to Peter Weinstock, MD, PhD, who worked together with Boston Children’s Simulator Program. Boston Children’s Hospital’s chief plastic surgeon John Meara says that some 3D printing medical vendors may take weeks or even months to create a model for you and it can be quite expensive. But when Weinstock got the patient’s image data, he managed to print the template during one night.
Images: Boston Children’s Hospital
Their printer has the resolution of 16 microns and can use different materials to print objects. Thanks to the printer’s high resolution, they can make templates of extreme precision, which is so important for printing something like a baby’s skull or brain. As this printer can use different materials for printing, doctors can get templates of organs of different tissue types, which allows them see the structures clearly and decide on the necessary margins of the operation. What’s more, such templates can help kids’ parents understand the procedures better.
One of the demonstrated 3D printed templates represents a 3D printed brain model based on one of the patients suffering from epilepsy. The template has accurate contours. The position of electrons that Madsen and his team used to identify the point of seizure activities more precisely.
Doctors may find it difficult to clarify each step of an operation using just an image. This is the only possible way to practice a surgery. Since all the patients are different, so are all their cases. It is very difficult for a young doctor imagine what various anomalies look like. These 3D printed templates can be effective for training young surgeons. Using these templates students can hold and feel their anatomy, train their senses, and so they can learn more than from images. Therefore, when they come up with such cases in reality they are more prepared. With one model you can try up to 10 different procedures and you will do no harm to patients.
Source: ABC News