3D Printing for Medical and Anatomical Models

Published on March 31, 2017

3D Printing for Medical and Anatomical Models

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  • 3D Printing has been used in medical modeling for years.
  • 3D Printing is used to educate doctors and medical staff.
  • It can also be used in complex medical procedures for surgical planning.
  • Or to explain surgeries and other procedures to patients.

3D Printing’s ability to make a physical object out of a file or idea has lead to many applications. In medicine 3D Printing is used for orthopedics, surgical guides, dental protheses and is an there is an emerging technology area in bioprinting. One thing that has been happening with 3D Printing for many years now is the use of 3D Prints as medical models. Hand made medical model or those based on human skeletons and tissue were expensive and rare. To make medical models more widely available doctors and medical educators worldwide have turned to 3D Printing to make less expensive more widely available 3D Prints. 3D Printed Medical models are used to educate future doctors and medical staff, they can also be used in complex surgeries for surgical planning and they can be used to explain procedures to patients.

3D Printed Models used in educating medical Staff. 

In medical education the ability to see with one’s own eyes a particular pathology or piece of anatomy can be invaluable in letting students learn. To then discuss a particular case with an object at hand can lead to deeper insight and learning. Many teaching hospitals have sets of skeletons or other teaching aids to help accomplish this. These are generally expensive however and difficult to obtain. With 3D printing many anatomical models can be made cost effectively. MRI and CT scan data can also be turned into 3D prints to let people inspect and study particularly unique things more closely.

If an Fused Deposition Modeling (FFF) model will suffice then a cost effective durable 3D Print can be used for many years. If one were to purchase the 3D Printer the actual cost of the 3D Print in ABS, ASA or PLA plastic would be very low indeed. If one would purchase a Nectar One and write it off in two years you would be looking at a cost of $9 per day for the printer. Energy costs would be less than $1 per day for the printer. If a part used 250 grams of filament, which would be enough to make a skull sized model, the filament cost would be (if we bought filament commercially for $30 per 750 Gr) $10. Some labor would be required to press print and remove the model from the build platform. If we estimate that labor would cost us $60 per hour than 3 minutes would be a good estimate per part at $3. In total a medical model would then cost us $23. This would be a very cost effective price for a 3D printed teaching tool for hospitals and physicians.

 

3D Printed Models used in Surgical Planning.

For many complicated surgeries 3D Printing is being used to 3D Print vascular structures, organs, complex pathologies to aid in surgical planning. These unique 3D Prints are made based on DICOM files from MRI and CT scans of patients. In conjoined twins for example complex vascular structures can then be 3D Printed in order to let teams plan their surgeries. Surgeries on conjoined twins require big teams and are highly complex. To have a visual tactile tool at hand to explain such a surgery and discuss it is often very effective in such situations. With 3D printing becoming more affordable many more procedures could benefit from this.

 

3D Printed Models used to educate patients. 

Patients are often anxious before a mayor surgery. They are bewildered by all the medical terminology and often not completely aware of what the pathology is and what will be done. In order to help lower their stress levels and explain procedures to them 3D Printed models of common surgical procedures can be used. These cost effective tools can help a patient understand what is to happen to them. The doctor can show them on the 3D Printed model what is to happen and where the problems lie. This would make patients more relaxed and understanding of the entire procedure.