3D printing has transformed surgery planning over the last decade – putting 3D physical replicas of 2D patient scans into surgeons hands, and even going further in allowing them to practice operations well ahead of the real thing. As our understanding of this technology grows, so too does our desire to push boundaries to become even more creative in our use of it. Below, you’ll discover the story of one surgeon who tasked Axial3D with creating a highly innovative model to aid surgical planning and to help the patient to better understand the procedure.

The surgeon in this case was to operate on a 20-year-old male patient with an extreme underbite. His correction plan involved cutting away parts of the patient’s jawbone from the skull and repositioning it, requiring micro millimeter precision, a lot of confidence in the plan.

Inspired by another innovative Axial3D model, the surgeon reached out to Axial3D to create an anatomical model that included a moving jawbone which could be attached magnetically; a technique that gave him an incredibly realistic understanding of the underbite. He then carried out a practice procedure on the model, making the exact cuts he planned to make in the patient’s actual bone. This unique foresight gave him advanced knowledge of when he would cut into a hollow or through the patient’s bone and confirmed his plan was indeed the right one.

This dry run of the procedure, conducted in a safe environment, enabled the surgeon to save significant amounts of money and time in the preparation of this procedure. Not only did he confirm his plan over 2 hours quicker than he would have without the model, but he also saved money for the hospital by pre-selecting the exact equipment that would be required in the operating room. He also found the model to be ‘remarkable’ in helping the patient to better understand his condition and in consenting to the surgeon’s plan to correct it. 

As physicians continue to push boundaries and innovate with 3D printing to better plan these complex operations, we increasingly see them reporting less time in the operating room, less risk of complications, and much better patient understanding. A great result for everyone involved.