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back to article Finally, a practical use for 3D printing: Helping surgeons rehearse

A mix of 3D printing, medical imaging and software which joins the two together is helping reduce the length of time taken to complete certain complex operations. Today, 12 National Health Service (NHS) hospitals are supported in the validation of patient surgery prior to an operation with models made by Stratasys 3D printers …

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If 4-D ultrasounds haven't taken off it's hard to image this doing the same.

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They do have one niche: They make great anti-abortion propaganda.

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Goth friends

I have a number of Goth friends - several of which I think would dearly love to have a 3d print of their own skull on the mantelpiece.

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Re: Goth friends

Bugger the goths. I want one.

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Re: Goth friends

My own skull, topped and hollowed and made into a Byronic goblet, thank you very much.

/oldgoth

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Re: Goth friends

My own skull, topped and hollowed

And your brain casing replaced with a 3D printed copy?

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Re: Goth friends

Bugger The Goths? good band, solid second album.

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Re: Goth friends

quote: "And your brain casing replaced with a 3D printed copy?"

Titanium, for preference, since I don't think we've found any veins of adamantium yet. Although crystalline Carbon would also provide improved tensile strength over the original, I'm also pretty sure we can't 3D print it (yet), whereas we can with Titanium. :)

Some extra chiselling of the jaw for the replacement wouldn't go amiss, either ^^;

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Re: Goth friends

old goth?

well where were you when we sacked Rome? :)

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Crystalline Carbon brain enclosure

Alas, I suspect the time, temperature and pressure may make the procedure a little uncomfortable.

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Useful stuff

My old university department 3D printed some skull portions for surgical training 2-3 years ago. For training purposes, of course, the precision is much less demanding. I remember a colleague talking about this being used surgically, though: if you need a titanium plate to cover a skull injury, there used to be multiple steps of trial and error *while in the operating theatre* to get the plate properly fitted! You'd get the patient anaesthetised, open up the skin, test the plate's position, mark where it doesn't quite fit, go and hammer it a bit, then try again - horrendously expensive, since you're tying up theatre, an anaesthetist and surgeon as well as the supporting nurses etc, but also more risky: the longer you're kept under, the bigger a problem it is. Now, they can make, test and adjust the plate beforehand on a high-precision plastic model: much less work to do once in theatre, so the patient's back in recovery and the next patient is being operated on much sooner.

It's been a while, so the numbers are a bit hazy, but I seem to remember that a thousand quid per skull was something they'd jump at - the theatre and staff time saved dwarf the cost of this process. Of course, with better software and printers presumably they'll be able to do it much more cheaply in future.

Alternatively, in some cases the plate itself could be directly 3D-printed, not just used to fit a conventionally-made plate - done twice last year with plastic skull replacements: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/26/3d-printed-skull-transplant-utrecht-_n_5036665.html

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Re: Useful stuff

"Alternatively, in some cases the plate itself could be directly 3D-printed, not just used to fit a conventionally-made plate "

Once you get to that stage you could use artificial bone instead of plastic, for even better results.

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Re: Useful stuff

Interestingly, last night's TV showed 3d printing used to create the "scaffolding" on which body parts can be grown from stem cells. I suspect it isn't yet happening in reality, but the potential is obvious.

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Re: Useful stuff

And in China, they've just done a vertebra. Invest in titanium sintering, say I.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferhicks/2014/08/19/peking-university-implants-first-3d-printed-vertebra/?utm_campaign=techtwittersf&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

I wouldn't be surprised to see the big orthopaedic centres getting their own fab facility for both practice parts and implantables.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Useful stuff

"Alternatively, in some cases the plate itself could be directly 3D-printed, not just used to fit a conventionally-made plate [...]"

My dentist likes to keep up with technology. A while ago he fitted a gold crown by doing the preparatory site shaping. He then took a silicone mould for the dental laboratory to create the crown for a later fitting session. The moulding process was most uncomfortable.

A few years ago the identical tooth on the other side of the jaw needed a crown. This time he did the preparatory work - then took a 3D picture of the site. After a short period of pleasant conversation the 3D milling machine had produced the crown - and in a material that matched my tooth colour. There was a satisfying click as he fitted the crown.

On a recent visit he produced a lo-tech digital camera and photographed inside my mouth. He was giving a lecture at an international conference - and my two crowns on identical teeth were a perfect illustration of the technological advance.

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Re: Invest in titanium sintering

Adamantium would be better

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Pint

I'd have suspect there will a considerable saving from getting thing right first time so no repeat procedures. Hard to quantify I suppose but all good. Well done those boffins.

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Joke

Just wait for the spammers to catch on

"We can print you a supersize one!"

Ooo Matron icon?

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Re: Ooo Matron icon

I'd vote for that.

Something like this would probably suffice.

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Finally?

The BEST, PRACTICAL use of a 3D printer was demonstrated 2 years ago...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoZ2BgPVtA0&feature=youtu.be

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Re: Finally?

Love the use of what look like normal rubber bands to take weight in that exoskeleton!

Add more bands for increased support.

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Re: Finally?

Wow, talk about a relatively simple external bit of kit (that needs to be exactly the right size and tension) drastically improving a child's quality of life!

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"The company doesn’t currently produce models from ultrasound,....

.... but, we wonder, if the technology was used to produce 3D models from the scans of unborn babies would that be a cool advance on the printout on the mantelpiece or would it be just that little bit creepy?"

http://www.theverge.com/2012/8/8/3227461/3d-printing-fetus-japan-fasotec-hiroo-clinic

http://www.businessinsider.com/3d-printed-fetus-2014-1

http://printmyfoetus.com/

Very creepy indeed.

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Re: "The company doesn’t currently produce models from ultrasound,....

Hmm none of those links lead to anyone who actually offers the service. They are either dead links or stories about companies which claim to do it.

Simon

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Plasticless Office

OK, this is fine and dandy and all, but isn't it kind of like printing the code from a beta version of a piece of software? Sure, it'll give you a general idea of what's going on, but five days inside the Human body is a looooong time and anything you see on the model will not be as accurate as a pre-op CT/MRI that reflects the present.

Printing an out of date model when every major healthcare system on Earth is still struggling with digital records seems like things going backward.

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From what I gathered in the article, this 3D thing is being used to print the bones that are to be worked on.

I don't think that bone structure changes all that much in a week.

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Re: Plasticless Office

"[...] but five days inside the Human body is a looooong time and anything you see on the model will not be as accurate as a pre-op CT/MRI that reflects the present."

If the body is changing shape that rapidly - then there is unlikely to be any point in fitting an implant anyway as it is soon going to be a poor fit.

Rigid body parts will not change that quickly. Flexible structures will have sufficient give to accommodate the anticipated anchor points' movements.

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I think you might be surprised at how much bone moves. Particularly when it's broken. When I was being fitted for my aftermarket ankle assembly (the OEM assembly had been crushed in spectacular fashion) there were eight or nine imaging sessions of the damaged parts in the weeks leading up to the surgery and two sessions each day of the day of the surgery.

It's a little known fact, but except for bones at your extremities, most bones in your body are connected to other bones. It's also quite common for muscles to be attached to those bones (people in movies diagnosing broken bones by the fact they can move that body part is dumber than too many bullets in a gun) . If you're dealing with a severe break with splintering and lots of little bits have simply been crushed to powder then movements in seemingly unrelated parts of your body can move all sorts of stuff around. So much so that even with completely custom made replacements and no budget ceiling the manufacturer still had a guy in the OR with a rolling cabinet full of various doodads specifically to deal with movement in the bones.

Granted, my incident was severe, but, as a rule, you really want doctors working on bones that aren't severely damaged to know what the fuck the bones look like without a 3D model. Bone structure is pretty basic stuff. If the design guys at Herman Miller know more about your bones than the doctor who wants to cut you open then I suggest a different doctor.

If it's a truly serious issue then the number of variables is high and subject to change until everything is completed. If it's a simple issue then they shouldn't need the model to begin with. Either way, I can't see this as practical or useful, at all unless the hospital you're at is just plucking random people off the street to perform surgery on you.

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Anonymous Coward

been practical uses for years.

got any small plastic part that clicks, switches, or turns inside equipment that otherwise works well enough but hasn't been made in a decade or more?

Or trying to custom mount anything to something else instead of using duct tape?

nevermind rapid prototyping. Now people do it from home.

But for those whom the solution is "buy the newest hotness/throw away the old one every six months" to any breakage, yeah, no "practical use" indeed.

lathes and mills too. waste o' garage space when you can buy pre-turned furniture legs at Home Depot.....:P

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Anonymous Coward

Hospital I worked at was using a 3D printer to produce models of skulls from MRI scans for planning cranio-facial surgery a decade ago. So while the printing technology may have advanced since then, the practical application has already been in non-trivial use for many years.

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Postnominals

Ddon't use MD, meaning managing director, in an article about medicine as I will suspect you mean MD, the American postnomial for doctors. I had to look up the company's website to reassure myself you hadn't gone all USAian. Damn context...

The UK version would be MBChB or (if from a medical school of more recent vintage) MBBS.

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