3D Printing has been being used increasingly more in the medical field. Whether it is the use of 3D bioprinting, printing of prosthetics, or the 3D printing of models that can be used to study different parts of the body, the technology is helping doctors and surgeons make some big strides.
Surgeons at the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona, Spain had been challenged with an inoperable tumor in a 5-year old little boy named Marc. He had been inflicted with a common childhood cancer, neuroblastoma. The treatments given to him, to help control the disease, have been successful, but unfortunately left a rather large tumor in his stomach area; a tumor that had been considered inoperable until now.
“We tried twice but failed surgery because we could not access [the tumor],” said lead surgeon Jaume Mora.
Mora and team didn’t want to give up though. They wanted to try and find a solution to removing the tumor. The issue was that there were so many blood vessels and arteries surrounding the tumor and organs, that it was almost impossible to perform the surgery. So the team of surgeons elected to use 3D printing technology to print replicas of the tumor, as well as the blood vessels and arteries. “This way we could do a trial before [operating on] the child,” said one of the surgeons, Kravel Lucas. “These techniques had been used in the event of bones or jaws, but never before in other types of body parts with soft tissue.”
The surgeons had 10 days to practice as many surgeries as they wanted on the 3D printed tumor, so that they could get it just right when it was time to perform the real operation. The 3D printed replicas included a hard printed material in place of the blood vessels, arteries and organs. These were the areas that had to be left unaffected. The tumor was printed using a softer resin, that was translucent. The goal was to remove the tumor from the 3D printed models without harming the blood vessels or organs.
Once the surgeons perfected their art on the 3D printed models, they then moved on to the real thing. Thanks to the practice that they had on the 3D models, surgeons were able to complete a successful surgery on the 5-year old little boy. He is expected to make a full recovered, and will not require any further surgeries.
This goes to show you how 3D printing is making a difference in hospitals, assisting surgeons in complicated surgeries that would previously be considered ‘inoperable’. Using this technology to allow surgeons to practice over and over again allows them to get the procedure down to a tee, prior to attempting potentially life threatening surgeries.
Discuss this latest use of 3D printing in surgery in the 3D printed model to removed tumor forum thread on 3DPB.com.