April 10, 2013

Dr. Maki Sugimoto, a surgeon and associate professor of gastroenterology at the Kobe University School of Medicine, believes that 3D printers can take medicine to the next level.

Dr. Maki Sugimoto | Credit: wsj.com

Since 2011 Dr. Sugimoto has been using 3D printer to fabricate replicas of patients' organs for the preparation for surgery. Using two-dimensional CT and MRI images of patients, doctors can create life-size replicated organs using 3D printing. These replicated organs are printed using two materials on an Objet Connex 3D printer. The outer layer is semi-transparent so doctors could see structures, bones and cancers from the outside.

In collaboration with Chiba-based medical engineering firm Fasotec Co., Dr. Sugimoto has also developed organ models that have the firmness and textures of real organs.

A 3-D replica of a patient's liver. | Credit: wsj.com

However making these organ models can cost from ¥50,000 ($500) to ¥150,000 ($1500), and the professional 3D printers usually also cost between $250,000 to $500,000. Fasotec says it is still rare for surgeons to request 3-D replicas of internal organs—more typical are basic 3-D copies of bones.

Professor Raphael Olszewski, a surgeon and head of the Université catholique de Louvain oral and maxillofacial surgery research lab in Belgium, uses paper-based 3D printing technology from Mcor Technologies to create physical models of patient's bone structures.

"Time is critical when a patient is undergoing surgery. The longer the patient's internal tissue is exposed, the greater the risk." The surgeons take a CT or cone-beam CT scan of the patient and uses Maxilim software to export the section of bone they're interested in. Then they transform the 3D file into a printable file and print out a full-size 3D physical model.

Since the model is a facsimile of the patient's actual physiology, surgeons can use it to precisely shape metal inserts that fit along a patient's residual bone.

"With each procedure, we can easily win an hour in the operating room, and that's a major benefit for the patient," says Professor Raphael Olszewski. "We open the patient up, slide in the device, check the fit, and start the patient's recovery."

Olszewski estimates that a model made with Mcor costs about half that of the ZPrinter and about one-tenth that of stereolithography.

The use of such biological models drastically improves the accuracy of operation. Dr. Sugimoto believes that longer-term, the impact of 3D printing is no smaller than the shift from fixed-line phones to mobile phones. His accomplishments as an educator and innovator have won 18 national and international medical prizes. He has been developing open-source medical imaging softwares including OsiriX, medical information technology system, surgical navigation system, minimally invasive endoscopic surgery, surgical robot, and Bio-Texture Modeling technology by using a 3D printer and various kinds of resin materials that can reproduce bio-texture accurately.

Watch Maki Sugimoto's speech at TEDxOsaka below about bio-texture modeling.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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chai wrote at 5/15/2015 7:03:11 PM:


opi wrote at 4/15/2014 3:18:48 AM:

Hard to understand because you have developing communication skills. Consider less passion about a controversial topic otherwise you lose credibility from non-medical audience.

Josh wrote at 10/22/2013 7:01:42 PM:

Raphael Olszewski is giving a talk in London on November 7th! It'll be great to see such a fascinating man discuss his craft. In case anyone's interested, here's the link http://3dprintshow.com/london2013/medical/

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