When we think of 3D printing in hospitals, imagining a future of additively manufacturing organs and limbs isn’t so farfetched. While we aren’t quite there yet, 3D printing is being used to assist with surgeries and operations today.
SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital uses 3D printing to plan, simulate, and refine around two hundred surgeries annually. The hospital uses BCN3D Epsilon W50 and Sigmax printers to make biomedical models, creating lifelike, true-to-size models of bones, skulls, hands, and other body parts to assist with surgery.
3D printing a patient’s skull for resection
A great example of the hospital’s use of 3D printing is the case of a patient with a complex tumour located in the centre of the right maxillary bone.
Despite extensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy, this tumour was resistant and needed to be surgically removed. Unfortunately, due to its connection to the bone, the best way to remove it was with complete resection (surgery to remove part of the bone), and doctors turned to 3D printing to help.
Doctors created an accurate picture of the tumour using CT and MRI scans and mapped it out in 3D software. This process gave doctors a clear view of the tumour and showed how the surgery would work in real-time.
3D printing engineers, surgeons, and radiologists decided which parts to print. They decided it was best to print different parts of the skull and the tumour and prototypes for the titanium plates for resection.
The patient’s skull was 3D printed with BASF’s ABS, which perfectly replicates the colour of bones. The skull model gave doctors a visual aid, portraying the patient’s skull and tumour and giving them an inside look.
Surgeons could use the skull in surgery simulations, helping them define limits for incisions and practice the cuts. And on the day of surgery, the models were in the operating theatre, giving surgeons a reference point.
“3D printing helped us to avoid possible post-operative surgeries and improved the quality for both the patient and the surgical process.” – said Dr Adaia Valls, a maxillofacial surgeon at SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital.
So, how did the surgery go? You’ll be pleased to know it went swimmingly. The patient is now recovering, and the surgical team has a valuable case study to work with, should any other patients require similar treatment.
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This article was originally published on the BCN3D blog.