Mar 12, 2018 | By Tess

Yet another example of how 3D printing is impacting the medical field has come out of Spain, where experts from the Hospital Cruz Roja in Córdoba have 3D printed lung cancer models for the purpose of surgical planning.

The 3D printed medical models, which were based on CT scans and MRIs of patients suffering from lung cancer, reportedly enabled surgeons to better prepare for tumor removal surgeries and helped to reduce the overall operation times.

Because the Spanish researchers are using both CT and MRI scans to construct the 3D printed models, these models have been dubbed “hybrid models.” This is because data from CT scans and MRIs provide different but equally valuable insight into the progression of cancer in the lungs.

As the researchers explain, CT scans are usually employed soon after a diagnosis to evaluate the lung cancer in a patient because the imaging technique offers “excellent anatomical detail of the lungs.” MRIs on the other hand, are typically used for determining the stage of the lung cancer and for detecting metastases (to see if the cancer has grown, in other words).

Typically, 3D printed anatomical models are based on either a patient’s CT or MRI scan, but the Spanish researchers have shown that 3D models can be made even more precise by combining data from the two.

To do this, they captured a contrast-enhanced CT scan. By using a limited field-of-view and an iterative reconstruction algorithm for the CT, the researchers were able to up the spatial resolution of the scan while simultaneously reducing image noise. They also followed semiautomated segmentation protocols to “delineate distinct areas of the scans.”

The team then combined the CT scan image with the MRI scans and merged them into a single 3D model using Philips Healthcare’s IntelliSpace Portal platform. Once both scans were carefully aligned, the hybrid model was readied for 3D printing using MeshLab and was produced using 3D Systems’ MultiJet ProJet MJP 5600 3D printer.

The patient-specific 3D printed hybrid lung models were used in tests to determine if they would have a positive impact on surgical preparation. The 3D printed models were used in pre-surgical planning for five partial lobectomies which were then compared to ten partial lobectomies performed without the 3D models.

The results of the surgeries showed that the 3D printed model operations were on average 30 minutes quicker than the regular operations, and had slightly reduced hospitalization times and intubation times.

In terms of the patients’ spirometric parameters or the amount of time spent in ICU, the Spanish doctors did not see much of a difference. Still, the team of doctors, which includes Dr. Jordi Broncano, believes that the 3D printed hybrid lung models could pose an advantage during lung cancer tumor removal.

“[Hybrid] 3D printing constitutes a novel and potentially useful technique available for treatment planning and learning improvement,” said Dr. Broncano. “Although its impact is still to be proved, this procedure could improve surgery planning, especially in complex operations.”

Across the medical field, 3D printed surgical models are being used in pre-operative planning. Surgeons have noted the benefits of being able to physically visualize a patient’s anatomy before going into surgery.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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