Full color, multi-material 3D printer used to improve kidney cancer surgery

A team at Bordeaux University Hospital (CHU; Bordeaux, France) has produced lifelike color models of patient’s anatomy, which could be used by doctors pre-surgery to improve success and precision of kidney surgery and patient understanding.

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Jul 24, 2019
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Feature image: The clearer view offered by a transparent, full-color 3D printed model increases the ability to perform precise and successful kidney-sparing surgery. Credit: Stratasys (MN, USA).


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A team at Bordeaux University Hospital (CHU; Bordeaux, France) has produced lifelike color models of patient’s anatomy, which could be used by doctor’s pre-surgery to improve success and precision of kidney surgery and patient understanding.

CHU is one of the first hospitals worldwide to use a Stratsys J750, the world’s only full color, multi-material 3D printer, for complex kidney tumor removal cases. This helps surgeons identify and avoid damage to arteries and vessels near the tumor, which could otherwise result in the patient’s full kidney being removed. Preventing the patient’s kidney being removed decreases their risk of subsequently suffering from kidney disease. 

Stratasys full-color multi-material kidney models
Stratasys' unique full-color, multi-material 3D printing technology enables CHU to 3D print ultra-realistic models of patients' kidneys, providing clear visualization of tumors (pink area) pre-surgery. Credit: Stratasys
“The ability to visualize the specific location of a tumor in relation to these other elements, all in three dimensions, greatly facilitates our surgical planning” explained Jean-Christophe Bernhard, Urology Professor at CHU.

The 3D printed models give a visual aid, which can also be used to assist with explaining the surgical procedure to patients. Patient Carol Ridel, who recently underwent surgery at CHU, mentioned that she felt more reassured. 

“Seeing such a realistic representation allowed me to understand the process much better than an MRI” Ridel added.

A collaborative project at CHU entitled ‘Rein 3D print’ aimed to identify whether promoting patient understanding of their surgical procedure using the J750 3D printer could improve ambulatory care. As stated by Bernhard, the pilot protocol was a success due to the 3D printed models as patient hospitalization times have reduced during pre-surgery planning.

“Describing kidney tumor removal with a 2D scan or diagram will invariably leave most patients somewhat bewildered” Bernhard commented.

Research from patient questionnaires shows that 3D printed models increase patient understanding of their surgery by up to 50%, therefore, suggesting potential for these models to be used to improve overall patient care in the future. 

Source:  http://blog.stratasys.com/2019/07/18/french-hospital-uses-worlds-only-full-color-multi-material-3d-printing-technology-to-improve-kidney-cancer-surgery/

Go to the profile of Kimberley Ndungu

Kimberley Ndungu

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