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Patients can really benefit from being able to see and touch the problem that they’re going to have surgery for. That’s why many surgeons across the world request a personalized 3D printed model for complex cases.

Case

A patient presented with a slow-growing tumor – a colloid cyst, which the surgical team planned to remove.

These relatively uncommon benign cysts arise within the fluid-filled regions of the brain, the ventricles. They typically occur at the junction between the lateral and third ventricles. The cyst consists of a thin lining surrounding a thick fluid-filled center. Once they reach a critical size, these cysts can block the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), increasing the pressure within the brain. Additionally, they can compress the nervous structures that process memory signals in the brain. – Pacific Brain Tumor Center

Symptoms

  • Most patients present with headaches, although other symptoms can occur.
  • Prompt surgical intervention may be required, for example, in order to reduce the relatively high risk of sudden death.

A 3D printed model, based on the patient’s medical scans, was requested by the clinical team to help plan for surgical intervention. In addition, the personalized 3D printed model was also used as a tactile, visual aid for pre-operative discussions with the patient.

“Patients really benefit from being able to see and touch the problem that they’re going to have surgery for. Setting up the 3D printing service with axial3D was fast, easy and effortless on our part. We are excited about what the future of 3D printing will bring to our hospital.”

– Alex Alamri, Neurosurgery, The Royal London Hospital – Barts NHS Trust

patient holding personalized 3d printed model colloid cyst glioma
The patient holding a personalized 3D printed model of his brain.

Solution

A physical, 1:1 scale 3D model of the patient’s brain was created and then printed using transparent polymer resin, with the cyst and ventricle system contrasted in color. By 3D printing the patient’s brain, the clinical team could better plan for the operation and the patient was able to gain a detailed understanding of the pathology ahead of treatment.

With access to the personalized 3D printed model, the clinical team was better equipped to gain patient consent and prepare for the operation. The patient also had a much greater understanding of the severity of the disease.

  • The patient found the model more helpful than looking at a scan alone
  • The model helped the patient better understand the size of the problem
  • The patient better understood the clinical situation with having access to the 3D printed model

“3D-printing technologies provide a practical and anatomically accurate means to produce patient-specific and disease-specific models. These models allow for surgical planning, training and simulation, and devices for the assessment and treatment of neurosurgical disease.”

– 3D printing in neurosurgery: A systematic review – US National Library of Medicine

Personalized 3D printed models give insights beyond traditional medical imaging…

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