3D Printing to improve medical surgeries
19 October, 2015
"Having a 3D printed model comprising the patient's kidney tumor, main arteries and vessels, provides an accurate picture of what we will see during operations"
“Having a 3D printed model comprising the patient’s kidney tumor, main arteries and vessels, provides an accurate picture of what we will see during operations”
An interesting cooperation between Stratasys and the University Hospital (CHU) de Bordeaux in France, has demonstrated surprising use of 3D printed models to improve medical operations. Physicians in the hospital use the models during pre-surgery planning of complicated kidney tumor removal, helping to perform precise and successful kidney-sparing surgery and improving patient outcomes.
The process utilizes transparent and color 3D printed models produced on Stratasys’ color, multi-material 3D Printer, Objet500 Connex3 , in the Department of Urology and Kidney Transplantation at the University Hospital. According to CHU surgeon Dr Jean-Christophe Bernhard, this is currently the only hospital in France – and one of the first in the world – to deploy Stratasys’ technology for kidney tumor removal cases.
“Having a 3D printed model comprising the patient’s kidney tumor, main arteries and vessels – each in a different color – provides an accurate picture of what we will see during operations,” says Dr Bernhard. “The ability to visualize the specific location of a tumor in relation to these other elements, all in three dimensions, greatly facilitates our task and is not something that is easily achievable from a 2D scan.”
Opportunity for kidney-sparing surgery
According to Dr Bernhard, the clearer view offered by the 3D printed model may increase the ability to perform precise kidney-sparing surgery. The pre-surgery planning aids in identifying and avoiding damage to the delicate nearby arteries and vessels. Sparing the patient’s kidney is important because it reduces the chance of subsequently chronic kidney disease.
“A scan gives us good information, but it’s in 2D. This relies on the surgeon to mentally reconstruct the tumor volume in 3D and estimate its location inside the kidney. The same process has to be done to clearly understand the relations between the tumor, the vessels (arteries and veins) and the collecting system. As you can imagine, this is difficult and time-consuming for the surgeon.
“Having a 3D printed kidney model in your hands that corresponds specifically to that of the patient you’re going to operate offers me a view from a new perspective. The only thing more accurate than that is the patient himself,” he adds.
The CHU de Bordeaux uses three Stratasys PolyJet materials: transparent VeroClear to show the volume mass of the kidney itself, red for the arteries and yellow for the excretory tract. The red and yellow is then mixed on-the-fly – unique to Stratasys multi-material capabilities – to produce the all-important orange color of the tumor.
“The Stratasys transparent material enables us to see the arteries and the cavities that collect urine, so we can see if any of the arteries are touching the tumor. We need to remove the tumor, but not at the expense of the other vital elements that together enable the kidney to do its job. Finding that balance is much easier to achieve thanks to 3D printing.”