Considering the wide range of items we can 3D print today, why not babies too? That’s certainly an attention-getting endeavor, and one that would probably have many different individuals and political groups around the world squabbling in no time. The type of 3D prints we are talking about, however, serve as mere models during pregnancy, allowing parents to see and feel the forms of the fetuses as they develop.

Unsurprisingly, GE is behind the ultrasound technology which allows for a 3D print to be made. And thanks to Dr. Heron Werner, a gynecologist and obstetrician working at the DASA clinic in Rio de Janeiro, patients can now have the joy of going beyond sharing the typical 2D pics from the ultrasound. This resonates even more deeply with Ana Paula Silveira and her husband, Alvaro Zermiani, as both São Paulo residents are blind.

They made an appointment to see Dr. Werner in Rio, and he took Silveira on as a patient. This meant that they would be able to enjoy the 3D printed models he makes for his patients after their appointments.

[Image: Ana Paula Silveira and Alvaro Zermiani]

“From the moment we got to the high-quality ultrasound exam, through the possibility of 3D printing it, I realized that it could also serve to enhance the prenatal experience of visually impaired pregnant women,” Dr. Werner said.

This certainly isn’t the first time 3D printing has helped the visually impaired, of course, as the technology allows so much more to be shared with them, and can also be very helpful, from 3D printed maps to use for navigating to tactile books for children, opportunities to appreciate fine art, and more. We’ve also previously seen 3D printed visages being offered from ultrasounds. Now, however, parents-to-be capture a ‘glimpse’ of the shapes and sizes of their babies at the time of the ultrasound, along with feeling what it will be like to hold them although they are of course nowhere near term size.

“Holding the small fetus at 12 weeks is an indescribable feeling,” said Silveria. “Following up on our son’s evolution allowed us to have this feeling of being whole, because we feel with our hands. When we touched the second model, with Davi’s face, we realized his resemblance to us. Thanks to the exams and printing, we were able to not only know that our baby was growing healthy but also to have a very real contact and establish a very strong involvement with our son.”

[Image: Ana Paula Silveira and Alvaro Zermiani]

Dr. Werner was inspired upon seeing how Rio’s National Museum was using tomography to make their exhibits digital—like numerous museums around the world are now doing.

 “We thought, why not use [medical imaging technology] for printing fetus models,” he said.

The progressive ultrasound machine making this all possible via GE is the Voluson E10. 3D printing capabilities allow doctors not only to give patients the thrill of seeing or feeling the shape of their child, but it is also helpful for educational purposes if the child has a health issue that the parents need to prepare for, as well as helping explain surgical planning. Discuss in the 3D Printed Ultrasound forum at 3DPB.com.

A real-time ultrasound GIF of a baby’s face taken by the GE’s Voluson 10 machine. [Image: GE Healthcare]

[Source: GE Reports]

 





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