May 25, 2016 | By Benedict

In a milestone moment for the British National Health Service (NHS), surgeons have used a 3D printed replica of a patient’s cancerous prostate to aid surgery on the gland. The procedure was carried out at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London.

3D printing is now used all around the world as a tool for surgical planning. The process, which has already saved countless lives, is a simple but effective one: medical staff obtain scans of a patient’s anatomy, turn those scans into a digital 3D image, then turn that 3D image into a 3D printed model. That 3D printed model can then be delivered to the operating surgeon, who can closely examine it in preparation for the procedure.

Although the use of 3D printing during surgical planning is an exciting medical technique, it is not yet available to all. Given the experimental nature of medical 3D printing and the costs associated with high-quality 3D printing equipment, 3D printers are much more likely to be found in wealthy private clinics than more modest medical practices. It is therefore exciting to learn that 3D printing has now been used, for the first time ever, in the British NHS, the free national healthcare system available to all residents.

Professor Prokar Dasgupta, a surgeon who has performed similar operations with 3D printed surgical models at other clinics, performed the milestone procedure at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where a 65-year-old patient was being treated for a cancerous prostate tumor. The surgeon was able to get a close look at a 3D printed replica of the tumor before commencing surgery, enabling him to eliminate a good deal of improvisation which might otherwise have been required: “Using this 3D model, we can plan surgery better, we can counsel the patient better, and we hope to be able to remove the cancer successfully,” Professor Dasgupta said. “If I didn’t have this, there would be an element of guesswork.”

The 3D printed model was made in a lab at the hospital using data from an MRI scan. The printing process took a total of 12 hours, and cost around £150 - 200 ($220 - 293). The robot with which Professor Dasgupta performed the operation cost £2 million. As well as giving the surgeon a general idea of the shape and location of the tumor, the 3D printed prostate also revealed that one side of the gland was smooth, which enabled Professor Dasgupta to leave an important nerve bundle undamaged. “These bundles are important to the patient,” the surgeon said. “They go to the penis and help with the recovery of erections.”

Professor Dasgupta may have made history by becoming the first NHS surgeon to utilize 3D printing in surgical planning, but the surgeon believes that the technology has an important role to play in the present and future of medicine: “It shows you the power of MRI, it shows you the power of this software, it shows you the power of 3D printing,” he said. “If it proves to be as useful as it seems, I think it has a great future.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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dr sanjeev jain urologist India wrote at 6/16/2016 2:41:24 PM:

well done dr Prokar ! I believe it will be a benchmark for other radical surgeries , for example TCC bladder .deserve applauds !

dr sanjeev jain urologist India wrote at 6/16/2016 2:39:50 PM:

well done dr Prokar ! I believe it will be a benchmark for other radical surgeries , for example TCC bladder .deserve applauds !

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