3D printing today plays a role in many different aspects of the medical field. Along with the valuable roles that researchers, medical professionals, surgeons, and so many others play, this technology has repeatedly played a part not only in changing the quality of lives for many worldwide, but even saving lives in some cases. Children in need have received prosthetics, 3D printed implants have been created for surgeries like knee replacements, futuristic dental work, and more. Research to use 3D printed devices for bone cancer patients is underway as well as the 3D printing of tumors to further understand and battle the disease which affects millions every year.
Along with the advent of so many different medical devices and tools that are created continually, 3D printed models and guides continue to help doctors treat their patients, furthering diagnostics, training, and education for patients and their families, along with leading surgeons in the operating room. But what about models that can help researchers and doctors assess particular body parts and areas of tissue for those undergoing radiation therapy? This is a very specific tool currently being designed by scientists at Tomsk Polytechnic University as they work to 3D print dosimetry phantoms. These models allow them to view parts of the body, or the form in whole, so they can verify radiotherapy plans for their patients.
The 3D printed models are patient-specific, meaning that doctors can treat their patients more fully, with a clearer view of their individual characteristics, rather than just basic guidelines. The scientists are working with the Tomsk Cancer Research Institute of Tomsk National Research Medical Center on this project, moving away from more conventional methods of modeling, using a combination of innovative materials and technology. New techniques will allow more complex dosimetry phantoms to be created.
“There is no need to explain that radiotherapy is a serious medical manipulation associated with certain risks. The more carefully treatment plan is elaborated and verified, the more efficient it will be, the less healthy tissues will be affected. Now, average human models are used for this purpose. Although everyone understands that, for example, bones and muscles have different densities and interact differently with radiation,” says senior lecturer Yuri Cherepennikov from the Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle.
“We propose to create patient-specific models of the single body parts based on imaging data which are collected for each patient before radiotherapy, no additional manipulations are needed.”
Cherepennikov goes on to explain that they have created a polymer that not only creates a more patient-specific model, but is actually an identical representation of body tissue. Along with their new polymer, other additives help fabricate models of bones, muscles, fat, and other tissues. With the help of a recent RF President Scholarship, Cherepennikov will able to expand his research.
The research team is able to use all the benefits of 3D printing to their advantage, and it is hoped that affordability will be a large factor:
“Indeed, the cost of a phantom will depend on its complexity, but we are tasked to lower the cost to 10,000 rubles,” said Sergey Stuchebrov, Assistant Professor at the Research School of High-Energy Processes and the scientific supervisor of the project, noting a cost equating to about US$175.
The ability to create models and devices on demand is one of the greatest features offered via 3D printing, and especially in the medical arena where there is often a great sense of urgency. Previously, creating a traditional phantom would take up to two days. With 3D printing, they can create a model in as little as ten hours. These models are also able to adapt for medical devices patients may have, such as implants and pacemakers.
Tomsk Polytechnic University has also turned to 3D printing for research into pediatric cardiology and the creation of CubeSats. Find out more about the institute and their ongoing research projects here.
What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.[Source / Images: Tomsk Polytechnic University]