3D model aids surgeons in facilitating delicate procedure

By | January 30, 2019

3D printing is increasingly being used to facilitate medical procedures, with a Spanish organization saying it helped speed a cancer surgery.

The Biodonostia Health Research Institute used a 3D-printed model to help surgeons plan and guide a procedure that removed more than one of a 64-year-old patient’s ribs without damaging his lungs.

The use of the model helped surgeons with the delicate procedure, enabling them to complete the surgery two hours faster than the average operating time.

A report on the procedure was produced by Stratasys, a company that develops technology for 3D printing.

With the technology, the hospital can create advanced, patient-specific 3D printed models to plan for complex cases such as complicated thoracic wall tumors, enabling them to convert the CT scan of the patient into a 3D printed model and deliver it to the surgical team within 24 hours.

The use of models is helping surgical teams reduce surgical time, avoid lengthy, invasive surgical procedures and improve patient care.

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Surgeons at the Biodonostia Health Research Institute are now able to reduce often lengthy and invasive mechanical steps before the surgery using the patient-specific, accurate 3D printed model.

For this procedure, the surgeons created an advanced, patient-specific 3D model of the patient’s thoracic wall on a Stratasys 3D printer. Together, the hospital used technology to convert a conventional CT scan of the patient into a 3D printed model for the surgical team within 24 hours.

“By creating a precise, anatomically accurate 3D printed model of the thoracic wall, we were able to plan and perform the resection on the 3D model ahead of the surgery,” says Jon Zabaleta, MD, thoracic surgeon for Biodonostia, quoted in an article in a medical and life sciences newsletter published by AZoNetwork. “This allowed us to measure the screws and pre-bend the titanium plates in advance and helped reduce the overall operating time by 2 hours. For the patient, this meant a significant reduction in time under anesthesia, and for our hospital, freeing up time in operating rooms saving costs.”

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For this thoracic wall procedure on the tumor, surgeons needed a model strong enough to replicate human bone, and the Stratasys technology was selected because of its ability to print in engineering-grade thermoplastics.

The hospital says the next step will be for all surgical disciplines to use 3D printing to prepare and plan for surgeries, because it gives the hospital the opportunity to innovate treatment procedures and improve patient care.

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