In a previous blog, we discussed how 3D printing is helping surgeons train to perform specific procedures. More recently, they have begun using them to plan patient surgeries as well. Having 3D models made from a patient's CAT scans allows doctors to literally do a "dry run" which enables them to reduce the time spent in the operating room - and more importantly - increase the surgeon's accuracy. These benefits are helping Japanese oncologist surgeons battle kidney cancer.
"By using CT scans, the surgeons were able to produce 3D scans of the patient’s kidney. The information was then sent to a 3D printer, and a 3D model of the kidney was produced. The transparent 3D printed kidney model allows surgeons to see exactly where the patient’s blood vessels are"
Knowing the exact location of blood vessels reduces the time required to disrupt blood flow which typically takes an average of 22 minutes. Working with models beforehand lowered the time required by as much as 64%. If one physician's estimates of $147/minute are to be believed, that could save as much as $2,000 in operating room costs - more than the $500 - $1,500 cost associated with 3D modeling and printing a patient's organ. When one considers the additional benefit of improved accuracy, any improvement derived in surgery outcomes makes the approach potentially life saving and well worth the cost.