BURLINGTON, MA, USA – Doctors are improving the success of delicate surgeries through extensive use of multicolor 3D printing at The Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
The institution’s 3D Medical Applications Center begins with CT scans or camera images, transforms them into 3D computer files, digitally applies any desired color to the resulting digital models, and uses Z Corporation 3D printing technology to produce multicolor physical models in as little as a few hours. Surgeons can hold these 3D models in their hands, turn them upside down, and closely examine them from any angle to fully understand what they will be dealing with when the patient is on the table. The center typically prints out several models per week.
Neurosurgery uses models of aneurysms and arterio-venous malformations to help them with delicate surgeries. The 3D model essentially creates a “3D roadmap” for treatment. Surgeons spend less time investigating the anatomical structures of the patient after the incision is made, thus possibly reducing blood loss and chances of infection. Some surgeons say they “feel like they’ve been there before.”
In Orthopedics, a model was created for removal of bony growths on a patient’s knee. Using Z Corporation’s ZPrinter 450, specialists 3D printed a white model of the joint with blood vessels highlighted in red and a nerve in yellow, enabling the surgeon to determine safe routes of attack on the tumors. The surgeon brought the model into the operating room in a sterile bag and aligned his cutting instrument on the model, then aligned his instrument on the patient in the same fashion.
Specialists in Anaplastology also use 3D printing to create models of patients’ faces in the construction of facial prosthetics. No longer do already traumatized patients have to endure plaster on their faces to produce the moulage casting. The 3D-printed mask becomes the perfect platform for the creation of a facial prosthetic.
“It’s wonderful to see any patient benefitting from 3D printing,” said Z Corporation CEO John Kawola, “but it’s also a privilege that Z Corporation technology has been chosen by such a venerable institution in the treatment of the nation’s service men and women and their families.”