Dec 28, 2017 | By Tess

A team from the Affiliated Hospital of Hebei University in China has demonstrated the ability to 3D print a complex 1:1 liver model for surgical planning purposes for less that $90. The team, led by Professor Cheng Shujie, claims the patient-specific 3D printed liver models will help to improve hepatic surgery planning.

In the medical field, patient-specific 3D printed anatomical models are becoming more and more prevalent, as they can offer doctors a precise and tangible understanding of a particular patient’s case and can better a patient’s understanding of their own condition.

In recent years, we’ve seen some pretty impressive 3D printed models, the most advanced of which are multi-colored and sometimes even multi-textured. These advanced models, however, are often produced on expensive 3D printing systems and with expensive materials which makes them less accessible. An accurate 1:1 3D printed liver model, for instance, can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $4,500 to produce on a multi-color system.

In an effort to make highly accurate surgical models available to more people, the Hebei University team has developed a method for 3D printing complex liver models at a much cheaper cost than before.

Using two high-speed LCD-SLA 3D printers with liquid cooling systems, the medical team has additively manufactured what could very well be the most complex liver models we’ve seen to date. In manufacturing the pictured models, the researchers used two UNIZ SLA 3D printers, though they specify that any SLA 3D printers could be used.

Made from photosensitive resins in a variety of different colors, the 3D printed models reportedly represent the liver’s “three-system hepatic vascular network,” while existing 3D printed liver models only represent two of the liver’s vascular systems.

This added level of detail to the 3D printed model can offer a more in depth understanding of the patient’s anatomy and can lead to more effective surgical procedures, reduced risk of hemorrhaging, and fewer postoperative complications.

The liver models’ vascular networks are 3D printed using photosensitive resin with a layer thickness of 0.1 mm and an accuracy of 0.7 mm. To complete the liver’s shape, the vascular model is then cast in a highly transparent resin. The result is a 3D printed liver with fully visible internal components, including vein networks and tumors.

Not only has this 3D printing method cut back on the cost of 3D printing liver models for surgical planning, but it has also greatly reduced the printing time for said models. Currently, the print time for a model's internal structure is only about four hours. Still, as Professor Cheng Shujie points out, there is always room for improvement as the 3D printed liver models currently require about 30 hours of post-production time.

“After repeated and thorough verifications, Professor Cheng Shujie considers that the manufacturing method, currently developed by the Affiliated Hospital of Hebei University, of transparent, full-colored and high accuracy pre-surgery planning liver model is qualified in aiding a series of extremely difficult, accurate and personalized hepatic surgeries,” said the research team in a statement.

It adds that the 3D printing method could also be used to produce other, equally complex surgical models in fields such as orthopedics, neurosurgery, obstetrics, gynecology, plastic surgery, and stomatology. For liver-related applications, the Chinese doctors believe their 3D printed models can be used in as many as 80% of hepatic surgical cases.

In addition to surgical planning, the China-based researchers say the 3D printed anatomical models could also have applications in medical training, and could be adapted for batch production. In fact, if they are used for training purposes, the team says that the manufacturing time can be reduced further for the models as the post-processing molding step could be circumvented.

Ultimately, the Hebei University researchers hope that their low cost 3D printing method will offer the medical field (and hepatic surgeons in particular) an alternative to expensive and time consuming multi-nozzle 3D printing technologies. The research team, informed by previous research efforts at the Zhujiang Hospital in China, the Tsukuba University in Japan, and the Jagiellonian University in Poland, is currently working on improving and advancing its novel process for even higher accuracy.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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zhaobaohui wrote at 12/29/2017 8:04:22 PM:


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