Nov 25, 2015 | By Tess

It is always a trying time when someone close to you is diagnosed with an ailment or serious disease. What can make these already difficult times even more challenging to cope with is the complexity of the condition in question, and not necessarily understanding what is wrong or how it will be remedied. Doctors, whose job it is to explain and breakdown the possible routes for treatments have often struggled in relaying complex medical procedures to their patients and continue to look for ways to make the procedures as transparent as possible. This is where 3D printing comes in. That is, with the technology to additively manufacture customized and clearly marked anatomical models, certain institutions have made huge strides in facilitating patient-doctor communications.

For instance, in France at the University Hospital in Bordeaux, surgeons have been using multimaterial 3D printed kidney models to demonstrate to their patients what exactly will happen in their surgeries.

Recently as well, at the Radmoud UMC Hospital in The Netherlands, a program called REshape has been developed to turn 2-dimensional MRI and CT scans into 3D printed models, which are much easier for patients to grasp and visualize. They have been using the 3D printed models especially in cases where patients are suffering from complex brain tumors to be able to show them the size and position of the tumor within their brain.

David Grim, the project leader at the REshape and Innovation Centre at the Radboud Hospital creates the 3D models using the data from MRI and CT scans and manufactures them on an Ultimaker 3D printer. Throughout his career Grim has focused on healthcare innovation, particularly the enhancement of the patient’s experience. Now, with the help of the 3D printed models, which are customized on a case-to-case basis, Grim and other doctors can more clearly explain to their patients possible treatments, making the patient’s ultimate decision more informed.

David Grim has opted to use an Ultimaker 3D printer for the project for its affordability, quality output, and accessibility, with the doctors even being able to use the machine themselves.

“We are honored that our 3D printers are being used to improve the communication between patient and doctor at Radboud University Medical Center,” says Siert Wijnia, founder and CTO of Ultimaker. “As 3D printing becomes more popular and cost efficient we have seen a growing trend of our printers being utilized in a number of different fields and professions. It is exciting for Ultimaker to be able to help [improve] patients’ understandings of their health and act as a tool for doctors to communicate treatment options with patients and their loved ones.”

The REshape program led by Grim has as its basis the empowerment of patients through increasingly clear communications between them and their doctors. 3D printing, which has helped make huge strides in various parts of the medical world, has come into play here in a big way, helping patients to visualize and understand their conditions through tangible and 3 dimensional models.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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