Understanding Vertigo by 3D Printing the Inner Ear

Share this Article

Vertigo is a truly awful condition in which a person feels as though his or her surroundings are moving or spinning. It can be nauseating and debilitating, and there are a number of different possible causes for the condition, though one of the most common is a problem with the inner ear. Inner ear disruption is what causes benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, which is the most common type of vertigo and involves brief, intense episodes of vertigo that last a few minutes and are often triggered by movement.

The inner ear is a complex and intricate area, and it can be difficult to understand the nature of problems that happen inside it. Most cases of BPPV are caused when tiny particles called otoconia break loose from the utricle, responsible for detecting linear movements, and fall into the semicircular inner ear canals. These canals sense the position of our head and help us to orient ourselves in space, and when the otoconia fall into them, the tiny crystals move when the head moves, disrupting our sense of balance.

It’s difficult to understand such a condition without some sort of visual representation, so an organization called Vestibular Today has developed a 3D printed model of the inner ear that doctors can use to help patients understand what’s going on in there, and how it can be fixed. Inner ear models have been used by doctors for that purpose for a long time, but this one is a bit different in that it was created from an actual MRI scan of an inner ear. The resulting 3D print is an exact replica of the inner ear structure, showing the correct angle of the canals in relation to each other and the utricle.

The 3D model was created by the NIH 3D Print Exchange Program, which was launched in 2014, and was then refined, scaled, and 3D printed by 3D Brooklyn.

“We’re used to creating functional product prototypes for clients, but working with a scan of an organ was a nice shakeup. It was the perfect combination for 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies,” said Will Haude, Chief Creative Officer at 3D Brooklyn. “As well as a great visual aid for something that would otherwise have to be imagined. The end result is a functional and educational medical device to help guide patients through necessary motions needed to relieve vertigo. CAD programs aren’t the right tool  for this project. For a realistic model with accurate proportions, 3D scanning along with some 3D modeling programs allowed us to clean up the model and add specific features to help call out certain sections of the organ.”

BPPV can be treated through what is called canalith repositioning, which involves a series of head movements designed to move the otoconia back towards the utricle. Doctors can use the 3D printed model to demonstrate the movements to patients, and show them exactly how they will work to affect the inner ear and restore balance by moving the otoconia, represented by rings on the 3D printed model.

“3D printing’s biggest impact could be the medical industry because the platform allows for a wide range of personalized applications,” Daniel Figur, Chief Marketing Officer for 3D Brooklyn, told 3DPrint.com.

“The combination of 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies help create physical models that are perfect for clinician and patient education. When those designs go open source, it allows for anyone to create and apply that model instantly. That 3D file can then be further modified to enhance the overall educational experience. This is a great application for 3D printing because it shows how open-source models can be applied to benefit individuals anywhere in the world.”

Clinicians can purchase a 3D printed inner ear model for $70, or a larger plastic model for classroom applications for $45. Below, you can see how a clinician uses the model to illustrate how canalith repositioning works:

[Images: Vestibular Today]

Discuss this story and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or share your thoughts below.

 

Facebook Comments

Share this Article


Recent News

Researchers Rely on 3D Printed Models & Surgical Guides for Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery

Sandia National Laboratories 3D Printing Tamper-Indicating Enclosures



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Featured

Digilab: On the State of Bioprinting Today

In a recent interview with Digilab‘s CEO Sidney Braginsky, Senior Applications Manager Igor Zlatkin, and John Moore, President and COO, 3DPrint.com got a glimpse of the focus, future, and advances...

Wikifactory’s Docubot Challenge Creates a Hardware Solution for Documentation

International startup Wikifactory, established in Hong Kong last June, is a social platform for collaborative product development. Co-founded by four makers, and until recently counting 3DPrint.com Editor-in-Chief Joris Peels as a member...

Kickstarter Campaign Continues for High-Resolution Jewelry 3D Scanner

Ukrainian company D3D-s was founded four years ago by father and son team Leonid and Denys Nazarenko, and last year they successfully raised $250,000 through Kickstarter for their first desktop 3D...

Interview with Formalloy’s Melanie Lang on Directed Energy Deposition

When I met Melanie Lang at RAPID a lot of the buzz on the show floor was directed at her startup Formalloy. Formalloy has developed a metal deposition head that...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Print Services

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!