Every day it seems as if there is another amazing use for 3D printing, which emerges within the medical community. Today we hear about a 3D printed kidney. No, scientists have not 3D printed out an actual human kidney just yet, but they have printed out an exact replica of a kidney which has been ravaged by cancer. Surgeons from Japan announced yesterday at the European Association of Urology congress in Stockholm, Sweden that they have accomplished this feat in order to help simulate major cancer surgery.
The surgeons first did a CT scan of the patient’s kidney to obtain a 3D model. They then used a Stratasys Objet Connex 3D printer to create the organ replica out of a clear polymer material. This allowed them to see the veins within the kidney model. They could then do a simulated surgery on that model.
During a normal tumor removal surgery, bloodflow to the kidney can be interrupted, on an average of 22 minutes. The ability for the surgeons to practice on a replica of the patient’s kidney, can cut this blood flow interruption down to just 8 minutes, resulting in a much lower risk of complications for the patient.
“The use of this ‘hands-on’ model system gave us a 3D anatomical understanding of the kidney and the tumor,” said lead researcher Dr. Yoshiyuki Shiga. “This enabled the surgeon to work on a smaller area.”
Already Dr. Shiga has 3D printed 10 different 3D kidney models, in order to assist in cancer surgeries. Although the 3d printing of these models tacks an additional $500 to $1500 onto the final cost of surgery, doing so can drastically improve surgery success rates.
This is not the first case in which surgeons have relied on 3D printed models of organs to help guide them in surgery. In fact, just last month we did a story on Dr. Nizar Zein who has been 3D printing polymer liver models at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio for some time, as well as other surgeons relying on 3D printed heart models to assist them in cardiac surgeries. Take part in a discussion around the 3D printing of cancerous kidneys at 3dprintboard.
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