Partners of Spanish Hospital Use Stratasys FDM Technology to 3D Print Medical Models

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Founded in 2008, Biodonostia Health Research Institute was the very first medical research institute in Spain’s Basque region, and now focuses on research in seven subject areas, from oncology and neuroscience to bioengineering and infectious diseases. Recently, the institute partnered with Tecnun, a specialist division of the Universidad de Navarra, and Tknika, a regional Research and Applied Innovation Center for Vocational Education and training, in order to help its surgeons harness Stratasys‘ FDM 3D printing technology to help in surgical preparation and planning.

“3D printing is an essential surgical tool for us,” explained Dr. Jon Zabaleta, a Thoracic Surgeon at Biodonostia. “Previously, no 3D printed model we created in-house could meet the level of detail and accuracy we needed. However, thanks to our partnership with these local institutions, we now have access to advanced 3D printing technology from Stratasys that enables us to meet the demands required to create highly-accurate, patient-specific 3D models.”

In order to perform complex procedures successfully, surgeons need every possible tool at their disposal…such as 3D printing. The goal of Biodonostia’s partnership with both Tecnun and Tknika is to put together a multidisciplinary team that works to make accurate, high-quality 3D printed surgical models on demand for the hospital. Tecnun will work on the segmentation and reconstruction of the patient-specific models, while Tknika will complete the final 3D printed versions.

“We’re thankful to have such knowledgeable partners in Tknika and Tecnun,” said Dr. Zabaleta. “Coupled with the dedicated local support of Stratasys distributor, Pixel Sistemas, we’re confident that the hospital can continue to help patients with access to the most advanced 3D printing solutions.”

Thanks to its new partnerships, Biodonostia surgical teams can receive highly accurate 3D printed medical models, made with Stratasys’ FDM technology, within 24 hours. These models are helping the hospital’s teams improve patient care by reducing the amount of time patients spend in surgery, especially when it comes to treating complex thoracic wall tumors.

Patient-specific 3D printed model of a tumor on the thoracic wall.

These tumors, located on the chest wall, cause painful swelling, and can even lead to trouble breathing. Dr. Zabaleta and his team recently had a case where a 64-year-old man had a very complicated, and painful, tumor on his thoracic wall – the tumor had grown up his chest cavity and spread across multiple ribs over two years. The team was concerned about the patient’s respiratory function and knew they needed to act fast.

“Ordinarily, in a case like this, we would remove the affected ribs and correct the defect by covering the area with a titanium plate,” Dr. Zabaleta explained. “These plates are a standard size, designed for men of 100 KG or women of 50 KG, and need to be altered and rotated during surgery to suit each patient specification. In a complicated surgery, this can add hours to the operating time.”

Removing multiple ribs would increase the risk of the surgery, so the team needed to find a way to maintain movement and flexibility in the patient’s chest, while also fixing the defect with enough strength to protect his lungs. They turned to new partners Tecnun and Tknika for help planning the surgery through the use of an advanced, patient-specific 3D printed model.

“By creating a precise, anatomically-accurate 3D printed model of the thoracic wall, we were able to plan and perform the resection on the 3D model ahead of the surgery. This allowed us to measure the screws and pre-bend the titanium plates in advance and helped reduce the overall operating time by 2 hours,” said Dr. Zabaleta. “For the patient, this meant a significant reduction in time under anesthesia, and for our hospital, freeing up time in operating rooms saves costs.”

Tecnun and Tknika converted a CT scan of the patient’s thoracic wall and tumor into a 3D printable model. Because the model needed to be strong enough to replicate human bone, it was 3D printed out of an engineering-grade thermoplastic on the Stratasys Fortus 450mc 3D printer.

“Our partnership afforded us access to the necessary technology to produce a large and complex model that was incredibly strong, close to the real bones we would face during surgery,” said Dr. Zabaleta. “Without the strength of this model, we could not have prepared for the surgery in the same way.”

The 3D printed model was also helpful in reliving the patient’s anxiety ahead of the surgery, which also made the surgical consult more efficient.

Due to its new partnerships, Biodonostia is working to provide 3D printed medical models to 23 other Spanish hospitals. Dr. Zabaleta believes that the next step for all of the hospital’s surgical disciplines should be to use Stratasys FDM 3D printing for surgical planning, so patient care can be improved through innovation.

Dr. Zabaleta said, “The use of the 3D printed model was so essential to this case, and we are working to apply this to many other surgical disciplines across the hospital, from pancreatic tumors to airway stenosis, and these 3D printed models are already being used to help train our future surgeons.”

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[Source: News Medical]

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