How did 3D technology change the doctor and patient paradigm?
In recent years, additive manufacturing technologies have gained prominence as they have been incorporated into multiple disciplines, including medicine. With regard to surgical planning, the creation of 3D models responds to the need to achieve a better anatomical understanding by the doctor, and a better understanding of the overall procedure by the patient, especially in complex cases.
For the medical staff, having the opportunity to simulate all the surgical steps (using 3D visualization) before approaching the patient in surgery helps to anticipate intra- and postoperative complications. At the same time, it reduces operating room time and provides greater safety for the healthcare team.
On the patient's side, assimilating a diagnosis that requires surgical intervention is not an easy task. Therefore, it is very valuable that through the 3D model, they can understand the nature of the procedure and the particularities of their case, in order to increase their safety and confidence.
Is the use of 3D technology recommended in all cases?
No. The use of 3D technology is recommended for particular cases that require an exhaustive and precise understanding that is not possible to access through traditional two-dimensional images. Scientific evidence shows that customized surgery defines an improvement for these types of cases.
Is 3D printing more effective than virtual modeling?
3D printing enables the surgeon to hold in his hands an exact, life-size replica of the patient's anatomy. This allows him to take measurements and even observe the model from different angles.
Although the virtual model is not tangible, it offers a lot of information and flexibility through the software. For example, it allows you to zoom in on certain areas, rotate the model and even go inside cavities to view internal faces of anatomical structures.
In many cases, virtual 3D reconstruction is sufficient to understand the picture and printing is not required. The choice of one format or the other, or sometimes both, is the choice of each professional.
What are some of the applications of biomodels in surgical planning?
Cardiovascular surgery - Cardiac transplantation
Faced with a complex cardiac case, with multiple anomalies and anatomical variations, Dr. Alejandro Bertolotti of the Favaloro Foundation University Hospital used 3D printing to evaluate the performance of a heart transplant. This made it possible to clearly identify the characteristics of the Glenn anastomosis, assess the patient's dilatation of the inferior vena cava, size the left atrial cap and evaluate the pulmonary branches.
Thoracic surgery - Lipoma
It is a specialty that has several complex pathologies due to the important structures that are very close to each other. The following model shows the case of a patient with a lipoma in the upper thorax.
Neurosurgery - Intrathecal Tumor
In the presence of a spinal lesion in the dorsal area in a middle-aged patient, Dr. Javier Salazar requested a digital model and its 3D printed replica to validate the surgical plan and practice the percutaneous tubular excision procedure.
Surgery of the liver, pancreas and biliary tract (HPB) - Pancreatic tumor
Pancreatic tumors are a very challenging pathology since they affect a vitally important organ and are not very visible on CT, MRI or ultrasound scans. That is why a three-dimensional view of the organs and the tumor provides very valuable information for the intervention. Here is a case of a patient with this disease where the anatomical model helped to optimize surgery time and reduce intraoperative bleeding (See complete case).
Learn more about the applications of 3D anatomical models in surgery here