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3D Systems Announces Expansion of Virtual Surgical Planning Service: VSP Cranial Can Now Be Used in the Operating Room

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3ds-logo-menu-optim_0For 30 years, 3D Systems has helped companies and professionals drive new business models, optimize designs and transform workflows, and bring innovative products to the market. The company itself also boasts three separate dedicated healthcare facilities, one of which has been open for less than a year;’s editor-in-chief Sarah Goehrke had the opportunity to visit this Colorado facility last month and speak with several company executives. 3D Systems has now just announced that its Virtual Surgical Planning (VSP) service will be expanding, to include VSP Cranial for craniofacial and cranial procedures. VSP Cranial has officially received its 510(k) clearance, so it can be used in the operating room.

3d-systems_vsp-cranialThe VSP Cranial service allows surgeons to create a virtual pre-surgical plan that can be implemented with patient-specific, 3D printed anatomical models, guides and templates. Now that doctors can use VSP Cranial with sensitive, complex medical procedures, they will be able to become more familiar with, and plan around, a patient’s specific anatomy. Surgeons will be supplied with accurate, 3D printed surgical guides and digital tools, so they are able to give their patients improved outcomes in surgery.

Kevin McAlea, EVP, General Manager, Metals and Healthcare, 3D Systems, said, “The addition of VSP Cranial affords surgeons the ability to visualize and pre-plan complex cranial reconstructive surgeries that may not have been possible previously. 3D Systems is committed to expanding our solutions to support the most advanced patient care available.”

Cranial guides

Cranial guides

The VSP service, under the direction of the doctor presiding over each specific case, combines surgical simulation, medical image processing, and 3D printing in order to provide patient-specific surgical plans. Engineers with 3D Systems use patient CT scans to transform 3D anatomical data into 3D images, which let the surgeon visualize the medical procedure. The company’s engineers help the surgical team, via an online meeting, create a virtual plan for the upcoming surgery. Once the plan is fully fleshed out, 3D Systems’ SLA printers will create whatever patient-specific tools are needed, including anatomical models and marking and positioning guides. These tools are 3D printed in white and clear materials, with options to use color to distinguish structures such as blood vessels and nerves.


Dr. James Goodrich holds the 3D printed model of Jadon and Anias McDonald’s conjoined skulls [Photo: CNN]

The expanded VSP Cranial service can support many different craniofacial cases, including cases and procedures related to craniosynostosis that require cranial vault distraction. This condition occurs in one out of every 2,000 births, and causes one or more of the fibrous sutures in an infant’s skull to turn into bone by prematurely fusing, which causes a significant change in the growth pattern of the infant’s skull. Sometimes, the pattern will allow a suitable amount of space for the baby’s growing brain, but it causes abnormal facial features and head shape. In cases where the brain does not have enough room to grow, infants can suffer from increased intracranial pressure, which can cause a variety of ailments, including sleeping impairment, eating difficulties, visual impairment, or a significantly reduced IQ by impaired mental development. When doctors are able to intervene through surgery, they attempt to normalize the calvarial (dome) shape, so the cranial vault will be able to properly develop. If these cases are not treated, the deformity will progressively get worse.

Dr. Oren Tepper, Director of Aesthetic Surgery, Montefiore Health System and Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said, “As someone who has routinely used VSP for over five years, I have quickly adopted cranial applications into my practice. Fortunately, my neurosurgery colleagues also recognize the clinical value of VSP Cranial, and this technology now plays an integral role in many of our combined intracranial cases. 3D Systems’ engineers make the process seamless, especially for physicians who may be less familiar with these applications.”


Sarah Goehrke testing out a VSP simulator

During her visit to 3D Systems’ Colorado Healthcare Technology Center, Goehrke had a chance to test out some of the VSP equipment, including a haptic pen and the several simulators that were available, including the GI Mentor Express used for colonoscopies and the ANGIO Mentor for cardiac procedures. The tour also featured presentations of two case studies for which 3D Systems had created detailed cranial models, including the separation of twins Jadon and Anias McDonald, twin boys who were born conjoined at the brain. Two of the company’s higher-ups were actually in the OR during the last surgery that ultimately separated the twins.

If you’d like to learn more about VSP Cranial, and you happen to be in beautiful Hawaii next week, visit 3D Systems’ booth #2 at the American Society for Craniofacial Surgery (ASCFS) Symposium in Maui, January 23-25. You can watch a video demonstration of VSP Cranial below:

Discuss in the Virtual Surgical Planning forum at

[Source: 3D Systems]


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