A patient presented with a large cerebral aneurysm. Ahead of surgery to place a stent into the aneurysm, a 3D printed aneurysm model was created to help clinicians exactly plan and practice for the complex procedure.
Aneurysms can develop in any blood vessel in the body, but the two most common places are the artery that transports blood away from the heart to the rest of the body (the abdominal aorta) and the brain. As blood passes through the weakened blood vessel, the blood pressure causes a small area to bulge outwards like a balloon.
“The ultimate cause of a brain aneurysm is an abnormal degenerative (breaking down) change (weakening) in the wall of an artery, and the effects of pressure from the pulsations of blood being pumped forward through the arteries in the brain. Certain locations of an aneurysm may create greater pressure on the aneurysm, such as at a bifurcation (where the artery divides into smaller branches).” – Columbia Neurology
Due to the size and position of the aneurysm (adjacent to a tight bend in the artery) it would prove difficult to place a stent and coil into the aneurysm without rupture. Therefore, a 3D printed model was requested to support in creating a plan for surgery. A solid white model was printed in two parts with the skull and vessels surrounding the aneurysm. An elastic hollow model was also printed to allow a flow test to be performed to accurately plan and practice the procedure. The elastic model also provided the surgeon with the opportunity to pre-select equipment before surgery. Having the ability to pre-select the right stent before surgery can save ~£10,000 for each stent.
This model proved extremely useful to the surgeon in communicating his approach with the rest of the clinical team. The model will also come in useful when the time comes for the surgeon to communicate the plan with the patient.