Research Article: Medical 3D printing for vascular interventions and surgical oncology: a primer for the 2016 radiological society of North America (RSNA) hands-on course in 3D printing

Date Published: December 1, 2016

Publisher: Springer International Publishing

Author(s): Leonid Chepelev, Taryn Hodgdon, Ashish Gupta, Aili Wang, Carlos Torres, Satheesh Krishna, Ekin Akyuz, Dimitrios Mitsouras, Adnan Sheikh.


Medical 3D printing holds the potential of transforming personalized medicine by enabling the fabrication of patient-specific implants, reimagining prostheses, developing surgical guides to expedite and transform surgical interventions, and enabling a growing multitude of specialized applications. In order to realize this tremendous potential in frontline medicine, an understanding of the basic principles of 3D printing by the medical professionals is required. This primer underlines the basic approaches and tools in 3D printing, starting from patient anatomy acquired through cross-sectional imaging, in this case Computed Tomography (CT). We describe the basic principles using the relatively simple task of separation of the relevant anatomy to guide aneurysm repair. This is followed by exploration of more advanced techniques in the creation of patient-specific surgical guides and prostheses for a patient with extensive pleomorphic sarcoma using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software.

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In the short interval since the publication of our initial practical medical 3D printing guide for the 2015 annual RSNA meeting [1], the published literature in this domain has undergone exponential growth. The number of peer-reviewed journal publications has nearly doubled, ever expanding the breadth and scope of the applications of 3D printing in medicine. It is evident that 3D printing is poised to play an important role in transforming the practice of medicine, with applications ranging from fabrication of simple tools to complex tissues and, eventually, organs. Development of familiarity with 3D printing may therefore be of considerable interest to a wide range of medical professionals.

As the applications of 3D printing in medicine continue to expand, familiarity with the basic operations and tasks involved in this process becomes increasingly important. By the virtue of their existing functions, some radiologists may very well subspecialize to emerge as physicians responsible for integrating the input from other specialists to design procedure guides and generate medical implants in the future. In this work, our goal has been to familiarize the medical professionals with this nascent field and start the dialogue in this revolutionary development in personalized medicine that has the potential of transforming the practice of medicine entirely.




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