Nov 24, 2015 | By Kira

Thanks to 3D printing technology and a team of dedicated surgeons and physicians, Teresa Flint, New York State resident and mother of three, has successfully undergone surgery for a complex brain aneurysm that threatened to take her life. In collaboration with the Jacobs Institute, physicians at Kaleida Health’s Gates Vascular Institute, and biomedical engineers at the University of Buffalo, Stratasys PolyJet 3D Printing Solutions developed a cutting-edge 3D printed model that allowed doctors to identify the patient’s unique vascular anatomy and devise a tailored treatment option. According to Stratasys, this use of 3D printing technology marks a major advance in surgical pre-planning methods and could be used to save many more lives in the future.

According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, aneurysms are responsible for nearly 500,000 deaths every year worldwide. Characterized by a weakened area within the artery that fills with blood and creates extreme pressure, aneurysms often go undetected until it is too late. Luckily, patient Flint noticed diminished vision and headaches, which specialists were able to diagnose as a life-threatening aneurysm.

Generally, treatment for these types of aneurysms consists of inserting a metallic basket that strengthens the artery. However in Flint’s case, doctors quickly realized that this solution would not work due to some severely twisted vessels. “It was a serious problem from the standpoint that she had an extremely irregular brain aneursym that would be tricky to treat with micro-surgery,” said Dr Adnan H. Siddiqui, Chief Medical Officer at the Jacobs Institute, Vice Chair and Professor of Neurosurgery at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo. "There are some commonalities between all human beings”, he added "but at the end of the day our vascular tree is as different as our fingerprints."

In order to get a much clearer idea of just what they were dealing with, Flint’s doctors turned to 3D printing. Using high-definition imagery, an exact life-size replica of Flint’s entire brain vessel anatomy was created using an Objet Eden260V professional 3D printer from Stratasys, and flexible TangoPlus photopolymer material, which fully mimics the feel of human tissue and its vascular structure.

The doctors used the 3D printed model to first try out their initial plan with the metal basket, but saw that fall through. Rather than give up, they used the 3D printed model to pre-empt other potential complications and devise a more optimal means of treating the aneurysm. After planning their approach and even practicing the tailored operation in a surgical environment, the doctors were able to successfully operate on Flint’s aneurism. According to Siddiqui, the patient has been recovering well ever since.

“By 3D printing models that mimic vascular feel, we can create an approach I don’t think is achievable any other way,” said Michael Springer, Director of Operations and Entrepreneurship at The Jacobs Institute. JI is an independent non-profit stationed between the University of Buffalo and Kaleida Health, that seeks to create the next generation of medical device technology.

“Typical treatment options are highly risky, as no two cases are identical and require deep understanding of each patient’s unique vascular anatomy” said Scott Radar, General Manger of Medical Solutions at Stratasys. “With the aid of Stratasys’ PolyJet 3D Printing Solutions, surgeons at some of the world’s leading hospitals are now able to quickly pinpoint affected areas on individual patients and practice surgeries on realistic anatomical 3D printed models. This is expected to dramatically minimize risks associated with delays and complications stemming from real-time, in-procedure diagnoses.” "It may not be needed for the majority of routine cases," added Siddiqui, "but here its help was immeasurable."

This certainly isn’t Stratasys first foray into 3D printed medical applications. Recently, a University Hospital in Bordeaux used Stratasys’ Color Multi-Material 3D printing technology to pioneer the use of 3D printed kidney models in aiding the removal of tumors from kidneys. Stratasys also unveiled the Objet500 Dental Selection multi-material 3D printer for larger dental and orthodontic labs.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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