3D printing could become useful planning tool for neurosurgeons

Using ultra high-resolution CT scans, radiologists can transform the imagery into 3D solid models using a Z Corp 3D colour printer more commonly used in architecture and for rapid prototyping in engineering.

The DICOM images (a standard file format for medical digital images) are converted to STL files readable by CAD software. This is then imported into Zprint software and printed by a Z Corp Spectrum Z510.

The models help radiologists and surgeons identify defects that 2D images might not allow and give a clearer impression of the image. In addition to helping to plan procedures on complicated anatomy, it also helps physicians communicate with patients and their families.

The technique is being employed at the Department of Radiology at Tripler Army Medical Centre in Hawaii in partnership with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command/Central Identification Laboratory.

The Tripler doctors were previously sending data from Hawaii to mainland US to make models at vast expense and over a considerable time frame.

Paediatric radiologist Lynne Reuss told Wired.co.uk: "Tripler neurosurgeons have found them very useful for complicated anatomy, but they have been used for less complicated anatomy as well, for example for planning prosthesis; in one case a model was used to make an appropriately sized cranioplasty flap (a replacement for a missing or damaged piece of skull)."

Source: wired.co.uk
Written by Olivia Solon
Edited by Nate Lanxon


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