3D printing Stratasys is developing 3D replicas of patients’ vascular systems to help surgeons plan and practice operations.
The company helped make a replica built of a polymer that mimics human tissue, giving surgeons an idea of what they were working with during the operation.
The technology was used to help surgeons plan a life-saving operation in New York to treat an aneurysm inside a patient’s head.
The 3D printed model of the blood vessels inside the woman’s brain was used when scans revealed that surgeons would need a different approach to operate on the aneurysm which, if left untreated, would be fatal.
Dr Adnan Siddiqui, chief medical officer at the Jacobs Institute in Buffalo, New York, who directed the treatment told the BBC that the scans showed the blood vessels inside the woman’s brain were twisted and difficult to reach.
“It was a serious problem from the standpoint that she had an extremely irregular brain aneurysm that would be tricky to treat with micro-surgery,” he said.
“While we were doing that mock procedure we realised that we had to change some of the tools we wanted to use, given her anatomy.”