Jan 14, 2015 | By Simon

While we’ve been hearing about surgeons who are immersing themselves in 3D scanning, 3D modeling and 3D printing in an effort to better understand their surgical procedures - such as 3D printing hearts of young pediatric patients - to study before going into surgery, we have been yet to hear about a patient who 3D printed their own internal organ to help their doctors during a surgical procedure.

Such is the case with John Cousins, a Southampton, UK 3D print specialist who also just happens to be the managing director at 3D printer consulting and retail company isodo3D.

While giving a presentation to surgeons last October on the future of 3D printing in the medical industry, Cousins collapsed onstage and it was later determined that he had appendicitis.  During a 3D scan during the procedure however, it was determined that Cousins also had severe kidney stones that needed to be operated on shortly after.

"I had my appendix removed at the hospital but then I was talking with a consultant about removing the kidney stones,” Cousins told the Telegraph.  "Whilst I was lying in bed I thought, hang on, we could use the technology we have to reconstruct the kidney to assist the surgeon in his operation."

Once he was out of the hospital, Cousins then used the CT scans of his kidney and accompanying kidney stones to create an accurate 3D model, which was then printed in multiple parts so that it was easy for doctors to map out where the kidney stones were located within the kidney.   

The 3D printed kidney, which costed Mr. Cousins £123 in materials to produce and was printed in five hours, proved to be a success for doctors who plan on using the technology later for engaging patients in their surgical procedures as well as using them for educational demonstrations for colleagues and others in the medical industry.  

In most cases, doctors use images on a two-dimensional screen to operate on kidneys however the 3D model helped speed up the process and provided more accuracy due to the surgeons’ ability to known exactly what they were looking for physically beforehand.  

Cousin’s surgeon Bhaskar Somani added that 3D printing, which up until now has been used in more high-end surgical procedures, could speed up routine procedures such as kidney stone removal by as much as 25%.  He hopes that a future trial with 20 other patients will prove that it is useful for not just high-end surgical procedures, but all surgical procedures.

"It makes our job easier going in," said Somani. "This was a large stone, almost 3.5cm, so it's quite a big bulk and the 3D helps because it gives us a rough estimation of where to come from and to be more precise."


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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