A 3D printed replica model of a trachea, used to trial a complex procedure prior to a child going under anaesthetic at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), will go on display in the 3D Printing in Action exhibit at TCT Show + Personalize this week.
3D printing has already been used extensively in the medical sector to create patient specific models to help patients better understand their condition and also allow healthcare professionals to perform pre-surgery planning.
The particular technique was trialled in a 6-year-old patient, Katie Parke, with a lung condition that requires repeat ‘lung-washing’ treatments in order to clear dangerous build-ups of material in these organs. During the procedure one lung is ventilated while the other lung is washed out and although this process is relatively straightforward to perform in adults, the tubes used to ventilate and wash out the lungs are large and sometimes difficult to use in children. Multiple tubes therefore have to be positioned with great precision as quickly as possible in order for it to be safe in children who have little normal lung capacity with which to breathe.
Using a CT scan, the team 3D printed a ‘made-to-measure’ tube that was an exact replica of the patient’s trachea, on a MakerBot desktop machine. This allowed the anaesthetic team to match up the most appropriately sized tubes and practice their insertion in to the airways prior to surgery.
Colin Wallis, respiratory consultant physician at GOSH and co-author, commented: “Each time a child comes in to have their procedure they will have grown and so require different equipment to be used for their treatment. A model that is tailor-made to the child each time they have treatment means that the right sized tubes can be identified prior to surgery and a child can potentially be under anaesthetic for a shorter period of time.”
Owen Arthurs, GOSH consultant radiologist and study organiser, added: “This work demonstrates that it is possible to create precise anatomical models of complex organs cheaply and in a very short space of time from standard CT scans and a 3D printer. In the future, 3D printing could feasibly be adapted to scan and create many more organs in the body making a larger number of surgical procedures safer, quickly and easier.
The team are now looking to create a bank of different sized tracheal models and other organs that will allow doctors at GOSH to practice tricky procedures in their training. This model and more will be showcased at TCT Show + Personalize on 30th September – 1st October 2015 at the NEC, Birmingham, UK. Register for free.