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  • DevarshVyas

    Need of advancements for 3D printing from MRI data

    By DevarshVyas

    Hello the Biomedical 3D Printing community, it's Devarsh Vyas here writing after a really long time!    This time i'd like to share my personal experience and challenges faced with respect to medical 3D Printing from the MRI data. This can be a knowledge sharing and a debatable topic and I am looking forward to hear and know what other experts here think of this as well with utmost respect.    In the Just recently concluded RSNA conference at Chicago had a wave of technology advancements like AI and 3D Printing in radiology. Apart from that the shift of radiologists using more and more MR studies for investigations and the advancements with the MRI technology have forced radiologists and radiology centers (Private or Hospitals) to rely heavily on MRI studies.   We are seeing medical 3D Printing becoming mainstream and gaining traction and excitement in the entire medical fraternity, for designers who use the dicom to 3D softwares, whether opensource or FDA approved software know that designing from CT is fairly automated because of the segmentation based on the CT hounsifield units however seldom we see the community discuss designing from MRI, Automation of segmentation from MRI data, Protocols for MRI scan for 3D Printing, Segmentation of soft tissues or organs from MRI data or working on an MRI scan for accurate 3D modeling.    Currently designing from MRI  is feasible, but implementation is challenging and time consuming. We should also note reading a MRI scan is a lot different than reading a CT scan, MRI requires high level of anatomical knowledge and expertise to be able to read, differentiate and understand the ROI to be 3D Printed. MRI shows a lot more detailed data which maybe unwanted in the model that we design. Although few MRI studies like the contrast MRI of the brain, Heart and MRI angiograms can be automatically segmented but scans like MRI of the spine or MRI of the liver, Kidney or MRI of knee for example would involve a lot of efforts, expertise and manual work to be done in order to reconstruct and 3D Print it just like how the surgeon would want it.    Another challenge MRI 3D printing faces is the scan protocols, In CT the demand of high quality thin slices are met quite easily but in MRI if we go for protocols for T1 & T2 weighted isotropic data with equal matrix size and less than 1mm cuts, it would increase the scan time drastically which the patient has to bear in the gantry and the efficiency of the radiology department or center is affected.    There is a lot of excitement to create 3D printed anatomical models from the ultrasound data as well and a lot of research is already being carried out in that direction, What i strongly believe is the community also need advancements in terms of MRI segmentation for 3D printing. MRI, in particular, holds great potential for 3D printing, given its excellent tissue characterization and lack of ionizing radiation but model accuracy, manual efforts in segmentation, scan protocols and expertise in reading and understanding the data for engineers have come up as a challenge the biomedical 3D printing community needs to address.    These are all my personal views and experiences I've had with 3D Printing from MRI data. I'm open to and welcome any tips, discussions and knowledge sharing from all the other members, experts or enthusiasts who read this.    Thank you very much! 
    • 3 comments
    • 1,084 views
  • embodi3d

    Selling Your Medical Model Files on Embodi3D.com

    By embodi3d

    Dear Community Members,
    After many months of work, we are happy to announce the addition of a feature that will allow you to sell medical models you have designed on Embodi3D.com. While we always have encouraged our members to consider allowing their medical STL files to be downloaded for free, we understand that when a ton of time is invested in creating a valuable and high-quality model, it is reasonable to ask for something in return. Now Embodi3D members have two options: 1) You can share your medical models for free, or 2) you can charge for them. We hope these two options encourage more sharing and file uploads. The more models available, the more it helps the medical 3D printing community.   For more details on how to sell your medical masterpieces on Embodi3D, go to the selling page.         Thanks, and happy 3D printing!
    • 0 comments
    • 695 views
  • Dr. Mike

    A Ridiculously Easy Way to Convert CT Scans to 3D Printable Bone STL Models for Free in Minutes

    By Dr. Mike

    Please note the democratiz3D service was previously named "Imag3D" In this tutorial you will learn how to quickly and easily make 3D printable bone models from medical CT scans using the free online service democratiz3D®. The method described here requires no prior knowledge of medical imaging or 3D printing software. Creation of your first model can be completed in as little as 10 minutes.   You can download the files used in this tutorial by clicking on this link. You must have a free Embodi3D member account to do so. If you don't have an account, registration is free and takes a minute. It is worth the time to register so you can follow along with the tutorial and use the democratiz3D service.   >> DOWNLOAD TUTORIAL FILES AND FOLLOW ALONG << Both video and written tutorials are included in this page.           Before we start you'll need to have a copy of a CT scan. If you are interested in 3D printing your own CT scan, you can go to the radiology department of the hospital or clinic that did the scan and ask for the scan to be put on a CD or DVD for you. Figures 1 and 2 show the radiology department at my hospital, called Image Management, and the CDs that they give out. Most radiology departments will have you sign a written release and give you a CD or DVD for free or with a small processing fee. If you are a doctor or other healthcare provider and want to 3D print a model for a patient, the radiology department can also help you. There are multiple online repositories of anonymized CT scans for research that are also available.     Figure 1: The radiology department window at my hospital.       Figure 2: An example of what a DVD containing a CT scan looks like. This looks like a standard CD or DVD.       Step 1: Register for an Embodi3D account   If you haven't already done so, you'll need to register for an embodi3d account. Registration is free and only takes a minute. Once you are registered you'll receive a confirmatory email that verifies you are the owner of the registered email account. Click the link in the email to activate your account. The democratiz3D service will use this email account to send you notifications when your files are ready for download.   Step 2: Create an NRRD file with Slicer If you haven't already done so, go to slicer.org and download Slicer for your operating system. Slicer is a free software program for medical imaging research. It also has the ability to save medical imaging scans in a variety of formats, which is what we will use it for in this tutorial. Next, launch Slicer. Insert your CD or DVD containing the CT scan into your computer and open the CD with File Explorer or equivalent file browsing application for your operating system. You should find a folder that contains numerous DICOM files in it, as shown in Figure 3. Drag-and-drop the entire DICOM folder onto the Slicer welcome page, as shown in Figure 4. Click OK when asked to load the study into the DICOM database. Click Copy when asked if you want to copy the images into the local database directory.     Figure 3: A typical DICOM data set contains numerous individual DICOM files.     Figure 4: Dragging and dropping the DICOM folder onto the Slicer application. This will load the CT scan.   Once Slicer has finished loading the study, click the save icon in the upper left-hand corner as shown in Figure 5. One of the files in the list will be of type NRRD. make sure that this file is checked and all other files are unchecked. click on the directory button for the NRRD file and select an appropriate directory to save the file. then click Save, as shown in Figure 6.     Figure 5: The Save button     Figure 6: The Save File box   The NRRD file is much better for uploading then DICOM. Instead of having multiple files in a DICOM data set, the NRRD file encapsulates the entire study in a single file. Also, identifiable patient information is removed from the NRRD file. The file is thus anonymized. This is important when sending information over the Internet because we do not want identifiable patient information transmitted.   Step 3: Upload the NRRD file to Embodi3D   Now go to www.embodi3d.com, click on the democratiz3D navigation menu and select Launch App, as shown in Figure 7. Drag and drop your NRRD file where indicated. While NRRD file is uploading, fill in the "File Name" and "About This File" fields, as shown in Figure 8.     Figure 7: Launching the democratiz3D application     Figure 8: Uploading the NRRD file and entering basic information To complete basic information about your NRRD file. Do you want it to be private or do you want to share it with the community? Click on the Private File button if the former. If you are planning on sharing it, do you want it to be a free or a paid (licensed) file? Click the appropriate setting. Also select the License Type. If you are keeping the file private, these settings don't matter as the file will remain private. Make sure you accepted the Terms of Use, as shown in Figure 9.     Figure 9: Basic information fields about your uploaded NRRD file   Next, turn on democratiz3D Processing by selecting the slider under democratiz3D Processing. Make sure the operation CT NRRD to Bone STL is selected. Leave the default threshold of 150 in place. Choose an appropriate quality. Low quality produces small files quickly but the output resolution is low. Medium quality is good for most applications and produces a relatively good file that is not too large. High quality takes the longest to process and produces large output files. Bear in mind that if you upload a low quality NRRD file don't expect the high quality setting to produce a stellar bone model. Medium quality is good enough for most applications. If you wish, you have the option to specify whether you want your output file to be Private or Shared. If you're not sure, click Private. You can always change the visibility of the file later. If you're happy with your settings, click Save & Submit Files. This is shown in Figure 10.     Figure 10: Entering the democratiz3D Processing parameters.       Step 4: Review Your Completed Bone Model After about 10 to 20 minutes you should receive an email informing you that your file is ready for download. The actual processing time may vary depending on the size and complexity of the file and the load on the processing servers. Click on the link within the email. If you are already on the embodied site, you can access your file by going to your profile. Click your account in the upper right-hand corner and select Profile, as shown in Figure 11.     Figure 11: Finding your profile.   Your processed file will have the same name as the uploaded NRRD file, except it will end in "– processed". Renders of your new 3D model will be automatically generated within about 6 to 10 minutes. From your new model page you can click "Download this file" to download. If you wish to share your file with the community, you can toggle the privacy setting by clicking Privacy in the lower right-hand corner. You can edit your file or move it from one category to another under the File Actions button on the lower left. These are shown in Figure 12.     Figure 12: Downloading, sharing, and editing your new 3D printable model.   If you wish to sell your new file, you can change your selling settings under File Actions, Edit Details. Set the file type to be Paid, and specify a price. Please note that your file must be shared in order for other people to see it. This is shown in Figure 13. If you are going to sell your file, be sure you select General Paid File License from the License Type field, or specify your own customized license. For more information about selling files, click here.     Figure 13: Making your new file available for sale on the Embodi3D marketplace.     That's it! Now you can create your own 3D printable bone models in minutes for free and share or sell them with the click of a button.If you want to download the STL file created in this tutorial, you can download it here. Happy 3D printing!  
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    • 32,467 views
  • Dr. Mike

    Easily Create 3D Printable Muscle and Skin STL Files from Medical CT Scans

    By Dr. Mike

    In this tutorial we will learn how to use the free medical imaging conversion service on embodi3D.com to create detailed anatomic muscle and skin 3D printable models in STL file format from medical CT scans. Muscle models show the detailed musculature by subtracting away the skin and fat. Even when created from a scan of an obese person, the model looks like it comes from a bodybuilder, Figure 1A. Skin models show an exact replica of the skin surface. The finest details are captured, including wrinkles and veins underneath the skin. Hair however is not captured in a CT scan and thus the model does not have any hair, Figure 1B. Figure 1A (left): A muscle 3D printable model. Figure 1B (right): A skin 3D printable model   These models can be used for a variety of purposes such as medical and scientific education and research. Additionally, the skin models can be used to re-create a person's likeness in 3D from a medical scan. If you have had a CT scan of the head, you can create a lifelike replica of your head. You can create replicas of your friends, family, or even pets if they have had a medical CT scan. Alternatively, if you have a loved one who passed away but had a CT scan prior to death, you can use the scan to re-create an exact replica of their face. Even scans that are years old can be used for this purpose. Some people may consider this to be a little creepy, so if you are considering doing this think carefully first.   Before proceeding please register for an embodi3D.com account if you haven't already. You will need an account to use the service. It is highly recommended that you download the associated file pack for this tutorial so that you can follow along with the exact same files that are used in this tutorial.   >> DOWNLOAD THE FREE FILE PACK BY CLICKING HERE <<   If you are interested in learning how to use the free embodi3D.com service, see my prior tutorials on creating bone models, processing multiple models simultaneously, and sharing and selling your models on the embodi3D.com website.       If you are interested in converting your own CT scan or that of a friend or family member, you can go to the radiology department of the hospital or clinic that did the scan and ask for the scan to be put on a CD or DVD for you. Figure 2 shows the radiology department at my hospital, called Image Management, and the CDs that they give out. Most radiology departments will have you sign a written release and give you a CD or DVD for free or with a small processing fee. If you are a doctor or other healthcare provider and want to 3D print a model for a patient, the radiology department can also help you. There are multiple online repositories of anonymized CT scans for research that are also available. If you have downloaded the file pack for this tutorial, example CT scans are included   Figure 2A, the Image Management (radiology) department at my hospital, where you can pick up a DVD of your CT scan as shown in Figure 2B (right). My hospital does this for free, but some may charge a trivial fee.   PART 1: Creating a Muscle STL model from NRRD File   Before we begin please bear in mind that this process only works for CT scan images. It will not work for MRI images. Before proceeding please check that the scan you wish to convert is a CT (CAT) scan!   Step 1: Convert Your CT scan to an Anonymized NRRD File with 3D Slicer Open 3D Slicer. If you don't have the software program you can download it for free from slicer.org. Once Slicer has opened, take the folder from the download pack that is called STS_004. This folder contains anonymized DICOM images from a CT scan of the legs of a 24-year-old woman who had a muscle tumor. Drag and drop the entire folder onto the Slicer window, as shown in Figure 3. Slicer will ask you if you want to load the images into the DICOM database. Click OK. Slicer will also ask you if it should copy the images into the database, click Copy. Slicer will take about one minute to load the scanned. Figure 3: Drag-and-drop the STS_004 DICOM folder from the file pack onto the Slicer window   Next, load the scan into the active wor king area in slicer. If the DICOM browser is not open, click on the Show DICOM browser button, as shown in Figure 4. Click on the STS_004 patient and series, and click the Load button, as shown in Figure 4. The leg CT scan will now load into the active seen within Slicer, as shown in Figure 5.   Figure 4: Open the DICOM browser and load the study into the active seen   Figure 5: The leg CT scan is shown in the active seen   Step 2: Trim the Scan so that only the Right Thigh is included. Click on the Volume Rendering module from the Modules drop-down menu as shown in Figure 6. Turn on volume rendering by clicking on the eyeball button, as shown in Figure 7. Then, center the model in the 3D pane by clicking on the crosshairs button, Figure 7. If you don't have the same window layout as shown in Figure 7, you can correct this by clicking on the Four-Up window layout from the window layout drop-down menu, as shown in Figure 8.   Figure 6: Turn on the volume rendering module   Figure 7: Center the rendered volume.   Figure 8: Make sure you are in the Four-Up window layout   Next we are going to crop the volume so that we exclude everything other than the right knee and thigh. From the modules menu, select All Modules, Crop Volume, as shown in Figure 9. Turn on ROI visibility by clicking on the eyeball button, as shown in Figure 10. Then, move the region of interest box so that it only encapsulates the right thigh, as shown in Figure 10. You can adjust the size of the box by grabbing on the colored circular handles and moving the sides of the box as needed.   Figure 9: The Crop Volume module.   Figure 10: Turning on and adjusting the crop volume ROI (Region Of Interest) Once the crop volume ROI is adjusted to the area that you want, perform the crop by clicking on the Crop button, Figure 11.   Figure 11: the Crop button.   The new, smaller volume that encompasses the right fight and knee has been assigned a cryptic name. The entire scan had a name of "2: CT IMAGES – RESEARCH," and the new thigh volume has a name "2: CT IMAGES-RESEARCH-subvolume-scale_1." That's a mouthful and I want to rename it to something more descriptive. I'm going to select the Volumes module, and then select the "2: CT IMAGES-RESEARCH-subvolume-scale_1" from the Active Volume drop-down menu. Then, from the same drop-down menu I'm going to select "Rename Current Volume". Type in whatever name you want. In this case I'm choosing "right thigh."   Figure 12: Renaming the newly cropped volume.   Step 3: Save the right thigh volume as an anonymized NRRD file.   Click on the Save button in the upper left-hand corner. The save window is then shown. All the checkboxes on the left except for the one that corresponds to the right by. Make sure the file format for this line says NRRD (.nrrd). Make sure you specify the proper directory you want the file to be saved as. When you are satisfied click on save. This is demonstrated in Figure 13. In the specified directory you should see a called right thigh.nrrd. Figure 13: The save file options.   Step 4: Upload the NRRD file to embodi3D.com   Make sure you are logged into your embodi3D.com account. Click on Imag3D from the nav bar, Launch App. Then drag-and-drop your NRRD file onto the upload pain, as shown in Figure 14. Figure 14: Uploading the NRRD file to embodi3D.com.   While the file is uploading, fill in the required fields, including the name of the uploaded file, a brief description, file privacy, and license type. Except the terms of use. next, turn on Imag3D processing.  Under operation, select "CT NRRD to Muscle STL."  Leave the threshold value unchanged. Under quality, select medium or high. Specify your privacy preference for your output STL file. If you are going to share this file, you can choose to share it for free or sell it. Please see my separate tutorial on how to share and sell your files on the embodi3D.com website for additional details. When you're happy with your choices, save the file, as shown in Figure 15: Figure 15: File processing options.   Step 5: Download your new STL file after processing is completed.   In about 5 to 15 minutes you should receive an email that says your file has finished processing and is ready to download. Follow the link in the email or access the new file via your profile on the embodi3D.com website. Your newly created STL file should have several rendered thumbnails associated with it on its download page. If you want to download the file click on the Download button, as shown in Figure 16. Figure 16: the download page for your new muscle STL file   I opened the file in AutoDesk MeshMixer to have another look at it, and it looks terrific, as shown in Figure 17. This file is ready to 3D print! Figure 17: The final 3D printable muscle model. PART 2: Creating a Skin Model STL File Ready for 3D Printing Creating a skin model is essentially identical to creating the muscle model, except instead of choosing the CT NRRD to Muscle STL on the embodi3D.com service, we choose CT NRRD to Skin STL. Step 1: Load DICOM image set into Slicer   Launch Slicer. From the tutorial file pack drag and drop the MANIX folder onto the Slicer window to load this head and neck CT scan data set. This is shown in Figure 18.   Figure 18: Loading the head and neck CT scan into Slicer. It may take a minute or two to load. From the DICOM browser, click on the ANGIO CT series as shown in Figure 19.   Figure 19: Loading the ANGIO CT series from the MANIX data set   Step 2: Skip the trimming and crop volume operations   In this case we don't need to trim and crop a volume as we did with the muscle file above. We can skip Step 2. Step 3: Save the CT scan in NRRD format. Just as with the muscle file above, save the volume in NRRD format. Click on the save button, make sure that the checkbox for the nrrd file is selected and all other checkboxes are deselected. Specify the correct directory you want the file to be saved in, and click Save.   Step 4: Upload your NRRD file of the head to the embodi3D website. Just as with the muscle file process as shown above, upload the head NRRD file to the embodi3D.com website. Enter in the required fields. In this case, however, under Operation choose the CT NRRD to Skin STL operation, as shown in Figure 20. Figure 20: Selecting the CT NRRD to Skin STL file operation   Step 5: Download your new Skin STL file   After about 5 to 15 minutes, you should receive an email that says your file processing has been completed. Follow the link in the email or look for your file in the list the files you own in your profile. You should see that your skin STL file has been completed, with several rendered images, as shown in Figure 21. Go ahead and download your file. You can then check the quality of your file in Meshmixer as shown in Figure 22. In this instance everything looks great and the file is error free and ready for 3D printing.  
    Figure 21: The download page for your newly created 3D printable skin STL file.   Figure 22: Opening the file in Meshmixer for quality control checks. The file is error free and incredibly lifelike. It is ready for 3D printing.   Thank you very much! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you use this service to create 3D printable models, please consider sharing your models with the embodi3D community. Here is a detailed tutorial that I wrote on exactly how to do this. This community is built on medical 3D makers helping  each other. Please share the models that you create!
     
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embodi3D May 2017 Newsletter

Welcome to our May 2017 newsletter! Read on to learn how you can participate in our file sharing contest and win an Amazon gift certificate, what improvements we have made to democratiz3D, and where you can find source medical files for 3D printing.   democratiz3D: New NRRD & STL Thumbnail Creation   democratiz3D(TM), our online tool which converts a medical scan study to a 3D printable file, has had an exciting upgrade: it now automatically creates thumbnails for NRRD files. As a reminder, the NRRD files are created from the original DICOM files from CT scans. Thumbnails are now automatically generated for all newly uploaded files. Once you submit a file for processing the thumbnails images will be available almost immediately. Simply refresh your browser window to see the thumbnails.     You can make thumbnails for your existing NRRD and STL files by clicking "Generate Thumbnails" on the file detail page. NRRD thumbnail generation takes a few seconds. Please note thumbnails are generated for STL files as well, but these take several minutes to process. A Collection of Medical Scan Files A new category called Medical Scan Files has been added to our Download area. This is a collection of NRRD source files uploaded and shared by members. Check it out, and please share your files so we can continue to grow our medical file library.   May Medical 3D Printing File Sharing Contest Speaking of sharing, we are now running a contest for the best shared file with the winner receiving a $50 Amazon gift certificate. Share a file when you upload and you are automatically entered to win. The contest runs the month of May.   April 3D Printable STL File Review Contest Winner Congratulations to Cris, who won our April file review contest! Cris is CEO and cofounder of Tenere Technology, a medical software development company, based in Madrid, Spain. Cris and her team are working to discover the world of 3D printing and excited about the amazing possibilities.   She reviewed an anatomically accurate scapula STL file. She wrote a nice review including an image of the scapula she printed using a file contributed by member health_physics.   In her review Cris also includes a picture of her 3D printer and helpful 3D printing details like wall thickness, print speed and type of material used. Meet Dr. Mike Dr. Mike will be speaking at FUSE 2017, Formlabs User Conference in Boston on June 6. If you are attending the conference, please seek out Dr. Mike. It is a unique opportunity to let him know how you use embodi3D and how we can improve. We Want Your Feedback We would like to thank our members who have provided feedback and thus contributed to the improvements we covered in this newsletter. Please keep sending us your feedback and making the experience better for everyone!   Let's grow our community together! The Embodi3D Team

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embodi3d

How to Easily Tell the Difference Between MRI and CT Scan

If you are planning on using the democratiz3D service to automatically convert a medical scan to a 3D printable STL model, or you just happen to be working with medical scans for another reason, it is important to know if you are working with a CT (Computed Tomography or CAT) or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan. In this tutorial I'll show you how to quickly and easily tell the difference between a CT and MRI.   I am a board-certified radiologist, and spent years mastering the subtleties of radiology physics for my board examinations and clinical practice. My goal here is not to bore you with unnecessary detail, although I am capable of that, but rather to give you a quick, easy, and practical way to understand the difference between CT and MRI if you are a non-medical person.   Interested in Medical 3D Printing? Here are some resources: Free downloads of hundreds of 3D printable medical models. Automatically generate your own 3D printable medical models from CT scans.  Have a question? Post a question or comment in the medical imaging forum.  A Brief Overview of How CT and MRI Works For both CT (left) and MRI (right) scans you will lie on a moving table and be put into a circular machine that looks like a big doughnut. The table will move your body into the doughnut hole. The scan will then be performed. You may or may not get IV contrast through an IV. The machines look very similar but the scan pictures are totally different! CT and CAT Scans are the Same A CT scan, from Computed Tomography, and a CAT scan from Computed Axial Tomography are the same thing. CT scans are based on x-rays. A CT scanner is basically a rotating x-ray machine that takes sequential x-ray pictures of your body as it spins around. A computer then takes the data from the individual images, combines that with the known angle and position of the image at the time of exposure, and re-creates a three-dimensional representation of the body. Because CT scans are based on x-rays, bones are white and air is black on a CT scan just as it is on an x-ray as shown in Figure 1 below. Modern CT scanners are very fast, and usually the scan is performed in less than five minutes. Figure 1: A standard chest x-ray. Note that bones are white and air is black. Miscle and fat are shades of gray. CT scans are based on x-ray so body structures have the same color as they don on an x-ray.   How does MRI Work? MRI uses a totally different mechanism to generate an image. MRI images are made using hydrogen atoms in your body and magnets. Yes, super strong magnets. Hydrogen is present in water, fat, protein, and most of the "soft tissue" structures of the body. The doughnut of an MRI does not house a rotating x-ray machine as it does in a CT scanner. Rather, it houses a superconducting electromagnet, basically a super strong magnet. The hydrogen atoms in your body line up with the magnetic field. Don't worry, this is perfectly safe and you won't feel anything. A radio transmitter, yes just like an FM radio station transmitter, will send some radio waves into your body, which will knock some of the hydrogen atoms out of alignment. As the hydrogen nuclei return back to their baseline position they emit a signal that can be measured and used to generate an image.   MRI Pulse Sequences Differ Among Manufacturers The frequency, intensity, and timing of the radio waves used to excite the hydrogen atoms, called a "pulse sequence," can be modified so that only certain hydrogen atoms are excited and emit a signal. For example, when using a Short Tau Inversion Recovery (STIR) pulse sequence hydrogen atoms attached to fat molecules are turned off. When using a Fluid Attenuation Inversion Recovery (FLAIR) pulse sequence, hydrogen atoms attached to water molecules are turned off. Because there are so many variables that can be tweaked there are literally hundreds if not thousands of ways that pulse sequences can be constructed, each generating a slightly different type of image. To further complicate the matter, medical scanner manufacturers develop their own custom flavors of pulse sequences and give them specific brand names. So a balanced gradient echo pulse sequence is called True FISP on a Siemens scanner, FIESTA on a GE scanner, Balanced FFE on Philips, BASG on Hitachi, and True SSFP on Toshiba machines. Here is a list of pulse sequence names from various MRI manufacturers. This Radiographics article gives more detail about MRI physics if you want to get into the nitty-gritty. Figure 2: Examples of MRI images from the same patient. From left to right, T1, T2, FLAIR, and T1 post-contrast images of the brain in a patient with a right frontal lobe brain tumor. Note that tissue types (fat, water, blood vessels) can appear differently depending on the pulse sequence and presence of IV contrast.   How to Tell the Difference Between a CT Scan and an MRI Scan? A Step by Step Guide Step 1: Read the Radiologist's Report The easiest way to tell what kind of a scan you had is to read the radiologist's report. All reports began with a formal title that will say what kind of scan you had, what body part was imaged, and whether IV contrast was used, for example "MRI brain with and without IV contrast," or "CT abdomen and pelvis without contrast." Step 2: Remember Your Experience in the MRI or CT (CAT) Scanner Were you on the scanner table for less than 10 minutes? If so you probably had a CT scan as MRIs take much longer. Did you have to wear earmuffs to protect your hearing from loud banging during the scan? If so, that was an MRI as the shifting magnetic fields cause the internal components of the machine to make noise. Did you have to drink lots of nasty flavored liquid a few hours before the scan? If so, this is oral contrast and is almost always for a CT.   How to tell the difference between CT and MRI by looking at the pictures If you don't have access to the radiology report and don't remember the experience in the scanner because the scan was A) not done on you,  or you were to drunk/high/sedated to remember, then you may have to figure out what kind of scan you had by looking at the pictures. This can be complicated, but don't fear I'll show you how to figure it out in this section.   First, you need to get a copy of your scan. You can usually get this from the radiology or imaging department at the hospital or clinic where you had the scan performed. Typically these come on a CD or DVD. The disc may already have a program that will allow you to view the scan. If it doesn't, you'll have to download a program capable of reading DICOM files, such as 3D Slicer. Open your scan according to the instructions of your specific program. You may notice that your scan is composed of several sets of images, called series. Each series contains a stack of images. For CT scans these are usually images in different planes (axial, coronal, and sagittal) or before and after administration of IV contrast. For MRI each series is usually a different pulse sequence, which may also be before or after IV contrast.   Step 3: Does the medical imaging software program tell you what kind of scan you have? Most imaging software programs will tell you what kind of scan you have under a field called "modality." The picture below shows a screen capture from 3D Slicer. Looking at the Modality column makes it pretty obvious that this is a CT scan.   Figure 3: A screen capture from the 3D Slicer program shows the kind of scan under the modality column.   Step 4: Can you see the CAT scan or MRI table the patient is laying on? If you can see the table that the patient is laying on or a brace that their head or other body part is secured in, you probably have a CT scan. MRI tables and braces are designed of materials that don't give off a signal in the MRI machine, so they are invisible. CT scan tables absorb some of the x-ray photons used to make the picture, so they are visible on the scan.   Figure 4: A CT scan (left) and MRI (right) that show the patient table visible on the CT but not the MRI.   Step 5: Is fat or water white? MRI usually shows fat and water as white. In MRI scans the fat underneath the skin or reservoirs of water in the body can be either white or dark in appearance, depending on the pulse sequence. For CT however, fat and water are almost never white. Look for fat just underneath the skin in almost any part of the body. Structures that contained mostly water include the cerebrospinal fluid around the spinal cord in the spinal canal and around the brain, the vitreous humor inside the eyeballs, bile within the gallbladder and biliary tree of the liver, urine within the bladder and collecting systems of the kidneys, and in some abnormal states such as pleural fluid in the thorax and ascites in the abdomen. It should be noted that water-containing structures can be made to look white on CT scans by intentional mixing of contrast in the structures in highly specialized scans, such as in a CT urogram or CT myelogram. But in general if either fat or fluid in the body looks white, you are dealing with an MRI.   Step 6: Is the bone black? CT never shows bones as black.   If you can see bony structures on your scan and they are black or dark gray in coloration, you are dealing with an MRI. On CT scans the bone is always white because the calcium blocks (attenuates) the x-ray photons. The calcium does not emit a signal in MRI scans, and thus appears dark. Bone marrow can be made to also appear dark on certain MRI pulse sequences, such as STIR sequences. If your scan shows dark bones and bone marrow, you are dealing with an MRI.   A question I am often asked is "If bones are white on CT scans, if I see white bones can I assume it is a CT?" Unfortunately not. The calcium in bones does not emit signal on MRI and thus appears black. However, many bones also contain bone marrow which has a great deal of fat. Certain MRI sequences like T1 and T2 depict fat as bright white, and thus bone marrow-containing bone will look white on the scans. An expert can look carefully at the bone and discriminate between the calcium containing cortical bone and fat containing medullary bone, but this is beyond what a layperson will notice without specialized training. Self Test: Examples of CT and MRI Scans Here are some examples for you to test your newfound knowledge. Example 1 Figure 5A: A mystery scan of the brain   Look at the scan above. Can you see the table that the patient is laying on? No, so this is probably an MRI. Let's not be hasty in our judgment and find further evidence to confirm our suspicion. Is the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and in the ventricles of the brain white? No, on this scan the CSF appears black. Both CT scans and MRIs can have dark appearing CSF, so this doesn't help us. Is the skin and thin layer of subcutaneous fat on the scalp white? Yes it is. That means this is an MRI. Well, if this is an MRI than the bones of the skull, the calvarium, should be dark, right? Yes, and indeed the calvarium is as shown in Figure 5B. You can see the black egg shaped oval around the brain, which is the calcium containing skull. The only portion of the skull that is white is in the frontal area where fat containing bone marrow is present between two thin layers of calcium containing bony cortex. This is an MRI.   Figure 5B: The mystery scan is a T1 spoiled gradient echo MRI image of the brain. Incidentally this person has a brain tumor involving the left frontal lobe.   Example 2 Figure 6A: Another mystery scan of the brain   Look at the scan above. Let's go through our process to determine if this is a CT or MRI. First of all, can you see the table the patient is lying on or brace? Yes you can, there is a U-shaped brace keeping the head in position for the scan. We can conclude that this is a CT scan. Let's investigate further to confirm our conclusion. Is fat or water white? If either is white, then this is an MRI. In this scan we can see both fat underneath the skin of the cheeks which appears dark gray to black. Additionally, the material in the eyeball is a dark gray, immediately behind the relatively white appearing lenses of the eye. Finally, the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brainstem appears gray. This is not clearly an MRI, which further confirms our suspicion that it is a CT. If indeed this is a CT, then the bones of the skull should be white, and indeed they are. You can see the bright white shaped skull surrounding the brain. You can even see part of the cheekbones, the zygomatic arch, extending forward just outside the eyes. This is a CT scan.   Figure 6B: The mystery scan is a CT brain without IV contrast.   Example 3 Figure 7A: A mystery scan of the abdomen   In this example we see an image through the upper abdomen depicting multiple intra-abdominal organs. Let's use our methodology to try and figure out what kind of scan this is. First of all, can you see the table that the patient is laying on? Yes you can. That means we are dealing with the CT. Let's go ahead and look for some additional evidence to confirm our suspicion. Do the bones appear white? Yes they do. You can see the white colored thoracic vertebrae in the center of the image, and multiple ribs are present, also white. If this is indeed a CT scan than any water-containing structures should not be white, and indeed they are not. In this image there are three water-containing structures. The spinal canal contains cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The pickle shaped gallbladder can be seen just underneath the liver. Also, this patient has a large (and benign) left kidney cyst. All of these structures appear a dark gray. Also, the fat underneath the skin is a dark gray color. This is not in MRI. It is a CT.   Figure 7B: The mystery scan is a CT of the abdomen with IV contrast   Example 4 Figure 8A: A mystery scan of the left thigh   Identifying this scan is challenging. Let's first look for the presence of the table. We don't see one but the image may have been trimmed to exclude it, or the image area may just not be big enough to see the table. We can't be sure a table is in present but just outside the image. Is the fat under the skin or any fluid-filled structures white? If so, this would indicate it is an MRI. The large white colored structure in the middle of the picture is a tumor. The fat underneath the skin is not white, it is dark gray in color. Also, the picture is through the mid thigh and there are no normal water containing structures in this area, so we can't use this to help us. Well, if this is a CT scan than the bone should be white. Is it? The answer is no. We can see a dark donut-shaped structure just to the right of the large white tumor. This is the femur bone, the major bone of the thigh and it is black. This cannot be a CT. It must be an MRI. This example is tricky because a fat suppression pulse sequence was used to turn the normally white colored fat a dark gray. Additionally no normal water containing structures are present on this image. The large tumor in the mid thigh is lighting up like a lightbulb and can be confusing and distracting. But, the presence of black colored bone is a dead giveaway.    Figure 8B: The mystery scan is a contrast-enhanced T2 fat-suppressed MRI   Conclusion: Now You Can Determine is a Scan is CT or MRI This tutorial outlines a simple process that anybody can use to identify whether a scan is a CT or MRI. The democratiz3D service on this website can be used to convert any CT scan into a 3D printable bone model. Soon, a feature will be added that will allow you to convert a brain MRI into a 3D printable model. Additional features will be forthcoming. The service is free and easy to use, but you do need to tell it what kind of scan your uploading. Hopefully this tutorial will help you identify your scan.   If you'd like to learn more about the democratiz3D service click here. Thank you very much and I hope you found this tutorial to be helpful.   Nothing in this article should be considered medical advice. If you have a medical question, ask your doctor.
 

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

 

Review Writing Contest Winner for April 2017

In April 2017, embodi3D held its first review writing contest. Many great reviews were posted and we selected a review by Cris as the winner. She is the recipient of the $25 Amazon gift certificate. Congratulations Cris!     She reviewed an anatomically accurate scapula STL file.  She wrote a nice review including an image of the scapula she printed using the file uploaded by health_physics. In her review Cris also includes a picture of her 3D printer and helpful 3D printing details like wall thickness, print speed and type of material used.   We are having a file sharing contest in May and have increased the prize to $50. All that is required is to upload a file, share the file and write a brief description. Each shared file you upload in May 2017 will be an entry in our contest. There is no limit to the number of files you can upload and share. To learn more and see complete rules please visit our contest page.

embodi3d

embodi3d

 

democratiz3D is Free Online Medical 3D Printing Software

The Embodi3D website offers a large and ever-growing library of 3D printable files that are available for free to anyone who signs up for a free account. Images include files from normal anatomy to those related to paleontology to complex musculoskeletal tumors. This site was founded by a practicing interventional radiologist with a passion for 3D printing and perfecting an easier method for converting files into those that may be downloaded and printed—a medical 3D printing application called democratiz3D.   Commercial Medical 3D Printing Software Three-dimensional printing has become a popular research and industrial interest in the orthopaedic surgery world. International companies such as Stryker (www.stryker.com) and DePuy Synthes (www.depuysynthes.com) are now marketing designs in craniofacial reconstruction, arthroplasty, and spine deformity surgery that utilize 3D printing in order to individualize implants and surgical techniques. Specialized software for 3D printing in healthcare is sold by Materialise in an offering called Mimics. Vital Images, a medical imaging and informatics company, has partnered with Stratsys, a 3D printer manufacturer, to provide a segmentation and healthcare 3D printing solution. However, these technologies are costly, and may be cost-prohibitive for the average patient or surgeon.   Three-Dimensional Printing for Patient Education and Surgical Planning Although most radiology departments currently have the capability to quickly convert a CT (computer tomography) scan to a three-dimensional image for better understanding of a patient’s anatomy, visualized anatomy cannot replace the ability to feel and manipulate a model. Three-dimensional printing can, however, bring these images to life. Printers have the capability to use differing materials, such as polymers, plastics, ceramics, metals, and biologics to create models. These models can be an excellent tool for patient and trainee education as well as surgical planning. In procedures such as complex tumors or difficult pelvic fractures, the surgeon could practice different techniques on an exact replica of the patient’s anatomy so that they have a better grasp of their approach to the patient. Furthermore, trainees currently learn and practice their surgical skills on cadaveric specimens, which can also be costly. Having access to a 3D printer that could create models could potentially decrease the utilization of cadavers.   Free and Easy Medical Three-Dimensional Printing Creating files from CT scans that can be used in 3D printing is easy with the use of the Embodi3d website. Detailed instructions are available on the tutorial pages of the website, but a brief overview will be described here. CT scans may be obtained from the radiology department in DICOM format. Free software available online at www.slicer.org can be used to review the DICOM imaging, isolate the area of interest and convert to an .nrrd file. This .nrrd file may then be loaded onto the democratiz3D application and formatted in a number of ways based on threshold as shown in the images below.   Files may be opened through the application or dragged and dropped into the file area (Figure 1, Figure 2). Details of the file, such as the title, description of the anatomy or pathology, and keywords are placed beneath the upload (Figure 3). Different thresholds are available to be automatically placed on the uploaded file, including bone, detailed bone, muscle, and skin (Figure 4). These files as well as the final, processed, files may be shared or remain private, free or at a fee to download by the community.
Figure 1. The link to the democratiz3D application is located at the top menu bar of the main page at https://www.embodi3d.com.   Figure 2. Once on the democratiz3D application, you may upload the .nrrd file or drag and drop the .nrrd file into the uploading area.     Figure 3. While the .nrrd file is processing, you may edit the details of the file, such as the title, tags, and description.     Figure 4. The application allows for thresholding of bone, detailed bone, muscle, and skin from the uploaded CT scan.     Once the file has been processed, you receive a notification and may view the file as well as automatically created screen shots (Figure 5). This is now an STL file that may be downloaded by clicking “Download this file”. If this is a file that you have downloaded, you may also edit the details of the file, move it to another category or upload a new version of the STL file directly onto the page (Figure 6). Although the democratiz3D application is a powerful and quick tool to convert .nrrd files to STL files, it is limited by the quality of the CT scan. Therefore, users may wish to clean up the model using free software such as Meshmixer or Blender. Once the files have been edited, they are maintained as an STL file that may be directly uploaded onto the page as a new version (Figure 7). These may then be placed in a category that is most descriptive of the file (Figure 8).   Figure 5. After about 5-20 minutes of processing (depending on the size of the file), you will get a notification and e-mail that the file has processed. The democrati3D application has converted the file into an STL file is now available for downloading and use in 3D printing.
Figure 6. If you would like to change the details, or upload new files or screen shots, you may choose from the drop-down menu.  
Figure 7. In order to upload a new version of the file, such as after it is edited in the free software Meshmixer or Blender, you may choose from the drop-down menu and drag and drop a new STL file.  
Figure 8. Because Embodi3D has created a library divided into different categories, you may move your file into the appropriate category to allow for ease of sharing with the community.     Alternatively, files that have been downloaded and edited may be uploaded as new files using the “Create” selection on the top menu (Figure 9). Once you have chosen the most accurate category (Figure 10), you can upload the new file by selecting the file or drag and drop into the proper area (Figure 11). This will then take you to similar section as outlined above in order to edit the details and sharing options for your file.   Figure 9. Upload an STL file by selecting the “Create” menu at the top of the webpage.       Figure 10. Select the category under which the file most accurately fits.     Figure 11. Upload the STL file by dragging and dropping or selecting the file.     As you can see, creating STL files from individual CT scans is an easy, 15-20 minute process that is reasonable for the busy orthopaedic surgeon to utilize in their practice.   For educational purposes, however, not every trainee, surgeon, or radiologist has access to patients with such a wide array of pathologies. The Embodi3D community provides an ever-growing diverse library of normal anatomy and pathology that may be downloaded for free and used for 3D printing. The files are divided into categories including: Bones, Muscles, Cardiac and Vascular, Brain and nervous system, Organs of the Body, Veterinary, Paleontology, Anthropology, Research and Miscellaneous.
  In order to access these files, click “Download” from the top menu (Figure 12), which will take you to the main Downloads page (Figure 13). The categories available are listed on the right side of the page, and will bring you to each category page. There, the number of files available within each category is listed. Once the desired file is selected, the file may be downloaded as described above.   Figure 12. In order to access the library of files, click “Download” from the top menu on the main page.     Figure 13. The Downloads page has a listing of the available categories to browse and explore for the desired files.     Creating and printing 3D models of CT scans will be useful in the future of medicine and the era of individualized medicine. The free library of medical 3D printing files available at embodi3D.com as well as the free conversion application democratiz3D will be an invaluable resource for education as well as for the private orthopaedic surgeon with limited resources. Furthermore, because healthcare costs are a main focus in the United States, having the ability to download and create models for a much lower price than through commercial 3D printing companies will be useful to decrease the cost of individualized care.   For more information about 3D printing in orthopaedic surgery, please see the following references:   Cai H. Application of 3D printing in orthopedics: status quo and opportunities in China. Ann Transl Med. 2015;3(Suppl 1):S12. Eltorai AEM, Nguyen E, Daniels AH. Three-Dimensional Printing in Orthopedic Surgery. Orthopedics. 2015;38(11):684-687. Mulford JS, Babazadeh S, Mackay N. Three-dimensional printing in orthopaedic surgery: review of current and future applications. ANZ J Surg. 2016;86(9):648-653. Tack P, Victor J, Gemmel P, Annemans L. 3D-printing techniques in a medical setting: a systematic literature review. Biomed Eng Online. 2016;15(1):115.

embodi3d

embodi3d

 

embodi3D April 2017 Newsletter

Welcome to our April 2017 newsletter! Read on to learn how you can participate in our review writing contest and win an Amazon gift certificate, what improvements we have made to democratiz3D, and what our medical device development service offers.   3D Printable File Review Writing Contest Download a file, post a review and you are automatically entered to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate. We will award the prize to the writer of the best review. The contest runs the month of April. democratiz3D: Medical 3D Printing for All democratiz3D(TM), our online tool which converts a medical scan study to a 3D printable file, has had an upgrade that allows for improved processing of dental, and face bone models. Lung CT scans with hard (sharpened) reconstruction kernels also have improved performance. Additionally, there are new materials that are shown in thumbnail renders for muscle and skin files. Going forward, thumbnails are now three colors white (bone), redish-brown (muscle) and gray (skin). Check it out, and let us know how you like it. Custom 3D Printing for Medical Device Development Embodi3D creates customized and highly detailed 3D printed medical models from real patient medical scans. You are assured the anatomy is realistic because it comes from a real patient. We can create sets of models, meeting your specifications for age/gender/pathology, thus giving you the most accurate picture of anatomic variability in your target patient population.   A Collection of Medical Scan Files Prior to model creation we perform a consultation to understand your needs in detail, so that the models are precisely tailored to test your device. Reply to this email for more information. We Want Your Feedback We would like to thank our members who have provided feedback and thus contributed to the improvements we covered in this newsletter. Please keep sending us your feedback and making the experience better for everyone!   Let's grow our community together!
The Embodi3D Team

embodi3d

embodi3d

 

Segmentation of a foot MRI scan

So I have seen some questions here on embodi3D asking how to work with MRI data.  I believe the main issue to be with attempting to segment the data using a threshold method.  The democratiz3D feature of the website simplifies the segmentation process but as far as I can tell relies on thresholding which can work somewhat well for CT scans but for MRI is almost certain to fail.  Using 3DSlicer I show the advantage of using a region growing method (FastGrowCut) vs threshold.   The scan I am using is of a middle aged woman's foot available here   The scan was optimized for segmenting bone and was performed on a 1.5T scanner.  While a patient doesn't really have control of scan settings if you are a physician or researcher who does; picking the right settings is critical.  Some of these different settings can be found on one of Dr. Mike's blog entries.   For comparison purposes I first showed the kind of results achievable when segmenting an MRI using thresholds.   With the goal of separating the bones out the result is obviously pretty worthless.  To get the bones out of that resultant clump would take a ridiculous amount of effort in blender or similar software:   If you read a previous blog entry of mine on using a region growing method I really don't like using thresholding for segmenting anatomy.  So once again using a region growing method (FastGrowCut in this case) allows decent results even from an MRI scan.     Now this was a relatively quick and rough segmentation of just the hindfoot but already it is much closer to having bones that could be printed.  A further step of label map smoothing can further improve the rough results.   The above shows just the calcaneous volume smoothed with its associated surface generated.  Now I had done a more proper segmentation of this foot in the past where I spent more time to get the below result   If the volume above is smoothed (in my case I used some of my matlab code) I can get the below result.   Which looks much better.  Segmenting a CT scan will still give better results for bone as the cortical bone doesn't show up well in MRI's (why the metatarsals and phalanges get a bit skinny), but CT scans are not always an option.   So if you have been trying to segment an MRI scan and only get a messy clump I would encourage you to try a method a bit more modern than thresholding.  However, keep in mind there are limits to what can be done with bad data.  If the image is really noisy, has large voxels, or is optimized for the wrong type of anatomy there may be no way to get the results you want.

mikefazz

mikefazz

 

Customized Medical Devices- A new trend in Medical 3D Printing

3D printing technologies have opened up the capabilities for customization in a wide variety of applications in the medical field. Using bio-compatible and drug-contact materials, medical devices can be produced that are perfectly suited for a particular individual. Another trend enabled by 3D printing is mass customization, in that multiple individualized items can be produced simultaneously, saving time and energy while improving manufacturing efficiency. 3D printers are used to manufacture a variety of medical devices, including those with complex geometry or features that match a patient’s unique anatomy. Some devices are printed from a standard design to make multiple identical copies of the same device. Other devices, called patient-matched or patient-specific devices, are created from a specific patient’s imaging data. Commercially available 3D printed medical devices include:   Instrumentation (e.g., guides to assist with proper surgical placement of a device)   Implants (e.g., cranial plates or hip joints)   External prostheses (e.g., hands)   Prescription Glasses   Hearing Aids   In summary, the 3D Printing medical device market looks exciting and promising, Various Reports and surveys suggest the unexpected growth and demand for 3D Printing in medical device industry and it is expected to blossom more but a number of existing application areas for 3D printing in healthcare sector require specialized materials that meet rigid and stringent bio-compatibility standards, Future 3D printing applications for the medical device field will certainly emerge with the development of suitable additional materials for diagnostic and therapeutic use that meet CE and FDA guidelines.

DevarshVyas

DevarshVyas

 

Scientists Relying on 3D Printing to Conquer Zika Virus

Very few infectious diseases in recent years have commanded the kind of attention and concern that Zika Virus has. Although Zika outbreaks have been reported in Africa, Southeast Asia and other parts of the world since the 1952, recent announcement by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirming its link with microcephaly has forced everyone to sit up and take notice. The CDC estimates that the current pandemic is widespread with at least 50 countries reporting active Zika transmissions at this time. Most people with Zika virus infection will not have any symptoms though some may experience mild fever, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, and headaches.   The virus is primarily transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. However, pregnant women may pass the infection to their babies, which may lead to microcephaly, a neurological condition associated with an abnormally small brain in the infant. The condition can lead to birth defects ranging from hearing loss to poor vision and impaired growth. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of Zika virus infections in pregnant women can, nonetheless, lower the risk of microcephaly to a great extent. Researchers have, therefore, put in a lot of time, money and effort to find a solution, and as always, three-dimensional (3D) medical printing and bioprinting technologies are leading the way. Understanding the Disease To begin with, 3D printing has played a crucial role in conclusively establishing the link between Zika virus and microcephaly. Researchers at John Hopkins Medicine used 3D bioprinting technology to develop realistic models of brain that revealed how the virus infects specialized stem cells in the outer layers of the organ, also known as the cortex. The bioprinted models allowed researchers to study the effects of Zika exposure on fetal brain during different stages of pregnancy. The models are also helping the scientists with drug testing, which is the obvious next stage of their research. Zika Test Kit Engineers at Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, under the leadership of Professor Changchun Liu and Professor Haim Bau, have developed a simple genetic testing device that helps detect Zika virus in saliva samples. It consists of an embedded genetic assay chip that identifies the virus and turns the color of the paper in the 3D printed lid of the device to blue. This can prompt healthcare professionals to send the patient for further testing and to initiate treatment. Unlike other Zika testing techniques, this screening method does not require complex lab equipment. Each device costs about $2, making Zika screening accessible to pregnant women from the poorest parts of the world. Treating Microcephaly The scientists at the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos (UAEM) in Mexico are relying on the additive printing technology to create a microvalve that may help treat microcephaly in infants. The valve reduces the impact of the neurological disease and slows its progression by draining out excessive cerebrospinal fluid associated with this disorder. It can be inserted into the infant brain through a small incision to relieve fluid pressure and provide space for normal development. Researchers estimate the device will be available for patient use by 2017. These examples clearly demonstrate the impact of 3D printing on every aspect of the fight against Zika virus from diagnosing the disease to treating it. The results have been extremely promising, and both researchers and healthcare professionals are immensely hopeful that additive printing technology will help them overcome the infection quickly and effectively.

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

3D Printed Wrist Brace

So I began to develop some pain in my right wrist which was later diagnosed as tendinitis. At the same time I had been looking at the CT scan of my abdomen and noticed they also captured my right hand as it was resting on my stomach during the scan (I had injured my right shoulder again).     I recalled a concept project a while back I had seen: the CORTEX brace. It presented the idea of replacing the typical plaster cast with a 3D printed one which would prevent the issues of sweating and itchiness… as well as be much more stylish (though not allowing people to sign your cast). I had wanted to apply this to prosthesis sockets initially but never got past the idea stage. Looking around for how to create the ‘webbing’ style I found that meshmixer had the necessary capabilities. So I now had all the tools needed to make my own brace to partially immobilize my wrist.   Once the surface model is created and loaded into meshmixer the first step is to cut off anatomy that you don't want in the model using 'plane cut'.
  Once the general shape of the brace is created the next step is to consider how the brace will be taken on and off.  For my design I wanted to have one piece that is flexible enough to slide my wrist in.  To create the 'slot' I found that I did a boolean in blender as meshmixer would crash when I tried to create the slot.     With the brace model and slot in place the next step was to offset the surface since creating the voroni mesh would generate the tubes on both sides of the surface.  This is done back in meshmixer and is fairly computationally intensive so partially reducing the mesh density first is a good idea.     The next step is to further decimate the mesh to get the desired voroni mesh pattern.  This takes a bit of playing around to get the desired style.  Too dense and the resulting web structure will not have many openings which will be stronger but not as breathable.  Too rough and the model may not conform to the surface well causing pressure points.     The final step is to take the reduced mesh and web like structure using the 'make pattern' feature within meshmixer.  There are various settings to be applied within this feature but setting 'Dual Edges' then adjusting the pipe size to double your offset will result in the inner edge of the webbing to just touch the skin of the initial model.     Having never made a brace/cast before it took me a few iterations to get a design which I could easily don and doff (put on and take off). I also found that I could make a brace that held my wrist very rigidly but would be too restrictive.     Also material selection became important.  Initially I used ABS which is more flexible than PLA and I had it in a nice pink skin color. It turned out to be too rigid for the style I was designing.  I found PETT (taulman t-glass) to work well as it had a lower modulus of elasticity meaning it was more flexible than ABS.
  After using the brace on and off for a few weeks I have found that it fits well and is surprisingly comfortable. I have taken a shower with it on as well as slept with it on.  It doesn’t seem to smell as bad as the cheap and common cloth type braces.  The main downsides have been taking it on and off is a bit challenging still and it is more restrictive of my motion as it behaves somewhere between a brace and a cast. There is definitely a great deal of potential for this type of cast though widespread adoption would require further technical development to simplify the process.

mikefazz

mikefazz

 

How 3D Printed Surgical Tools are Helping Surgeons Improve Patient Outcomes

Physicians across the globe have relied on surgical interventions for centuries to treat complex illnesses and injuries. High quality surgical instruments have played an important role in their success. Nonetheless, healthcare professionals are constantly looking for tools that would improve patient outcomes and minimize the risk of unwanted complications. In recent times, three-dimensional (3D) medical printing and bioprinting technologies have allowed doctors and engineers to develop innovative tools that help perform invasive procedures with greater ease. Robotic Surgical Tools Mechanical engineering students at Brigham Young University (BYU), under the guidance of their professors Barry Howell, Spencer Magleby, and Brian Jensen, combined additive printing technology and the ancient art of Origami to create surgical tools that can fit through 3mm wide incisions. Inside the body, the tools can unfold and expand into complex devices such as D-core tools. Minute incisions allow for quick healing eliminating the need for sutures and scars. The tools are highly precise and effective as well. Researchers at BYU are now collaborating with California-based Intuitive Surgicals to manufacture their products. The company is using 3D printing to develop both the prototypes and the actual tools. The 3D printing technology is also helping Intuitive Surgicals to create instruments with fewer parts making the entire process more cost-effective and stable. The Pathfinder ACL Guide Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Dana Piasecki of the OrthoCarolina Sports Medicine has developed a 3D printed surgical tool to conduct ACL surgeries with improved success. Currently, most surgeons drill a hole in the patient’s tibia to remove the torn anterior cruciate ligament and replace it with a graft. The procedure is painful, and the graft often fails to anchor properly. The Pathfinder ACL Guide, created by Dr. Piasecki in collaboration with Strasys Direct Manufacturing, has a 95 percent chance of placing the graft at the right position and helping it withstand the stress associated with extensive movement. The surgical tool is made from a biocompatible and flexible metal and is significantly cheaper than the existing devices. The Pathfinder ACL Guide has been registered with the FDA as a class I medical device and can now help thousands of amateur and professional athletes to continue playing their game in spite of an ACL tear. Eyelid Wands and Forceps Similarly, Dr. Bret Kotlus, a New York-based cosmetic surgeon, has used 3D printing technology to create customized tools for eyelid surgeries. His stainless steel Eyelid Wand helps surgeons lift excess eyelid skin and point it to various facial structures as per the needs of the patient. The handle of the tool consists of a ruler for accurate measurements.     Dr. Kotlus has also developed 3D printed Pinch Blepharoplasty Marking Forceps that allow surgeons to mark excessive skin with a gentle ink. It comes with a round tip and a built-in ruler handle for additional patient comfort. These tools also add some sophistication to the doctor’s office at an affordable price. Close to 50 million surgical inpatient procedures are performed across the United States each year. While recent times have seen a significant improvement in the way these interventions are carried out, a lot can be done to make the process more efficient and safe. This is where 3D printing is bound to make a huge impact in the near future. Sources: Johnson & Johnson Adopts Cutting Edge 3D Printing for the Future of Medical Devices 3d printed eyelid instrument designed by Dr. Kotlus 3D Printed Tool Offers New Option for ACL Surgery Researchers Combine Origami, 3D Printing in Quest for Smaller Surgical Tools

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

Fighting Obesity with 3D Printing

Since the 1980s, three-dimensional (3D) medical printing and bioprinting technologies have been influencing almost every aspect of the human life. Most people are, however, surprised at the kind of impact additive printing is having in the field of medicine. The technology is helping diagnose and treat complex illnesses ranging from cancer and heart disease to arthritis and infections. In recent months, several innovative 3D tools have also been created to overcome obesity. More than two-thirds of adults in the United States are obese or overweight. The prevalence of obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years. This has increased the risk of Type II diabetes, cancer and other serious conditions in men and women of all ages and abilities. Both government agencies and nonprofit organizations have spent millions of dollars creating awareness about the issue. Consequently, many people now understand the importance of healthy diet and exercise. They, however, lack resources that will help them accomplish such goals. Physicians are also looking for tools that will assist them in treating morbid obesity more effectively. Thankfully, 3D printing technology is offering some novel solutions to everyone, and researchers believe that it will ultimately bolster the efforts aimed at reducing weight and enhancing fitness levels. Liposuction Tools BioSculpture Technology, under the leadership of New York Downtown Hospitals and the Presbyterian New York affiliated plastic surgeon Robert Cucin, is relying on 3D printing to develop an innovative line of surgical instruments to perform liposuction. The technology is also allowing surgeons to create exact replicas of the patient’s organs and practice the procedure before the actual intervention. Together, these products are making liposuction more accessible and safe. Liposuction is an invasive procedure that involves removal of excess fat from various parts of the body and is commonly used treat obesity. Close to 400,000 people underwent this surgery in 2015, as per the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Tracking Devices Exertion Games Lab in Melbourne, Australia, has created a simple device that can print 3D models of the user’s physical activity time, sleep time, and heart rate during the week to motivate and encourage them to set new challenges. Unlike smartphones and pedometers, the Exertion Games Lab device caters to the needs of children as it helps them grasp complex fitness-related information with ease. Children can also hold these models in their hands and share their enthusiasm with their peers. The Potential These examples just form the tip of the iceberg. The impact of 3D printing on the fight against obesity is expected to go beyond creating mechanical devices and surgical instruments. Tamara Nair, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Non-traditional Security (NTS) Studies in the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), believes that the technology can also be used to create food products with higher nutritional value. Such foods may help obese and overweight individuals manage calorie intake according to their activity level. The 3D printing technology can also make nutritious foods more palatable, says Nair. These potential benefits may appear like science fiction to some readers. Nonetheless, if the recent advances in the 3D printing and bioprinting technologies are anything to go by, they may turn into reality very soon.

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

Hacks to make your medical 3D Print Cheaper

Cutting down costs for 3D prints is the number one concern for many Doctors and Patients. In order to achieve this, we need to understand how costs for 3D prints are calculated. Probably the most important variable is the amount of material that is needed for printing your medical object. So all we need to do is to make sure to use as little material as possible.   Here are our some top tips for more successful 3D printing. They're short and to the point, and if you follow them, you'll find your models will stand straight and look beautiful.      Create a hollow 3D model & 3D print with Escape Holes if needed.  A hollow model means that the interior of your object will not be solid. Solid designs are not necessarily a problem – they will be stronger and harder to break (depending on the material), but they will also be more expensive as more 3D printing material will be used.With a hollow model the interior of your print will be empty (in theory). However, since our printers print layer by layer, 3D printing material can get trapped in the interior of your model. If you would like to avoid this, you can add ‘escape holes’ to your design. Material that is not used for building your 3D print can then be removed. However, creating a 3D model with an empty interior can be a bit tricky, you need to know how to hollow your model in the 3D modeling software you’re using, you need to define a wall thickness that is strong enough for your model not to break, and it probably makes sense to add so-called ‘escape holes’ to your model Why do I need escape holes? As already pointed out, our 3D prints are created layer by layer. With a hollow interior, this means that 3D printing materials can get trapped inside the object. A hollow model full of trapped powder is in danger of deforming. Escape holes are recommended for getting ‘trapped’ 3D printing material out of your 3D print. We typically use pressurized air for cleaning the excess powder off.   How do I design escape holes? Again, the exact procedure depends on your software but the idea is often the same: create a cylinder at the bottom of your model and extrude or subtract from its wall    Use supports If you plan on printing out a figure as one solid piece, you'll want to consider placing supports at overhang areas. Some slicing/preference software will do this automatically.  The Infill for FDM 3D Printing The Slicing softwares lets you adjust the infill percentage and infill type to print your model in FDM. Choosing the correct percentage and type of infill depending on how strong you want your model to be can reduce the volume of your model making it cheaper.     Know your materials Learn the tolerances of the various materials used. It's better to err on the larger side, because you can always sand or trim down the piece afterwards.   Happy 3D Printing!!   

DevarshVyas

DevarshVyas

 

Region Growing Image Segmentation

I wanted to take some time to look into a brief history of medical image segmentation before moving into what I consider the more modern method of segmentation.  (be warned video is rather long)     First to be clear the goal of segmentation is to separate the bones or anatomy of interest from 3D scan data.  This is done most easily when there is a sharp contrast between the anatomy of interest and what surrounds it.  If you have a CT scan of an engine block this is pretty straight forward.  The density of metal to air is hard to beat, but for anatomy and especially MRI scans this is a whole other story.  Anatomical boundaries are often more of gradients than sharp edges.   Over the years there have been many approaches to make the process of segmenting anatomy faster, easier, and less subjective then the dreaded 'manual segmentation'.  When I first started working with medical images back around 2003 the group I was at was trying an alternative to their previous method.  Their previous method involved using ImageJ to separate each bone of the foot by applying a threshold then going in and 'fixing' that by painting... They wanted to segment the bones of the foot and it would take like 10 hours of tedious labor... fortunately that was before my time. I was tasked with figuring out how to get 3DViewNix to work.  It was basically a research project that ran on linux (which I hadn't used before).  Its had a special algorithm called 'live-wire' which allowed clicking on a few points around the edge of the bone on each slice to get a closed contour that matched the bone edge then doing that for each scan slice for each bone.  This resulted in about 3 hours a foot of still rather mind numbing effort.     After a while a radiologist with a PhD electrical engineering student let us know that there were much better ways.  His student had some software written in IDL that allowed using 'seeds' in each bone that would then grow out in 3D to the edges of the bones.  After some time to get setup we were able to segment a foot in less than an hour with a good portion of that being computer time.   My background is as an ME so I don't pretend to fully understand the image processing algorithms but I have used them in various forms.  This year I got more familiar with 3DSlicer which I have found to be the best open source medical imaging program yet.  It is built off of VTK and ITK and has a very nice GUI making seeding far more convenient (other programs I've used didn't really allow zooming).  It took me a while to find something similar to what I had used before but eventually I found the extension 'FastGrowCut' gives very good results, enough to move away from the special software I had been using before that wasn't free.   My basic explanation of 'FastGrowCut' and similar region growing algorithms is; you start with 'seeds' which are labeled voxels for the different anatomy of interest.       The algorithm then grows the seeds until it reaches the edge of the bone/anatomy or a different growing seed.  There is then a back and forth until it stabilizes on what the edge really is.  The result is a 'label' file which has all the voxels labeled as background or one of the entities of interest.       Once everything is segmented to the level that you like I prefer to do volumetric smoothing of each entity (bone) before creating the surface models.     These algorithms are an active area of research typically in image processing groups within university electrical engineering departments.  The algorithms are not a silver bullet that works on all situations, there are a variety of other methods (some as extensions to 3DSlicer) for specific situations.  Thin features, long tubular features, noisy data (metal artifacts), low quality scans (scouts), will still take more time and effort to get good results.  No algorithm can take a low resolution, low quality scan and give you a nice model... garbage in = garbage out.    Now I have been surprised bemoaned to find thresholding used as a common segmentation technique, often as the main tool even in expensive commercial programs.  That style typically involves applying a threshold then going in and cleaning up the model until you get something close to what you want.  To me this seems rather antiquated but for quickly viewing data or creating a quick and rough model it really can't be beat... but for creating high quality models to be printed there are better ways.

mikefazz

mikefazz

 

Registration with 3DSlicer

In this entry we look at registering one scan to another from the same subject pre and post op.     There may come a time when you have multiple scans of the same subject which you want to compare to each other.  This could be a CT and an MRI or a pre and post op scan as in this example.  Since the scans were taken at different times and possibly different places they will not line up with each other when they are loaded.  Registration is the process that can find the transformation that moves one volume to line up with the other.    The first step after loading the data is to perform an initial alignment.  If the two volumes are far apart the difference will likely be too much for the registration algorithm to properly work.  The initial alignment is done using the 'transforms' menu within 3DSlicer.  After creating a new transform pick which volume you will be moving as the other one (fixed image) will stay stationary through the whole process.  Now adjust the 3 translation and 3 rotation sliders until you get a decent alignment by eye.  It can help to center each volume first if they have a large origin offset.  Also changing the way one of the volumes is colored can make visual alignment easier.   With the two volumes roughly lined up find the BRAINS registration within the Registration group under the main menu.  Before performing the registration set the: Fixed Image Moving Image Output Image Volume Initialization Transform Registration Phases, set to Rigid (6 Degrees Of Freedom).     When you click 'Apply 'the registration will run until it finds the best match between the scans.  Registration quality is typically measured in therms of 'Mutual Information' which is basically the union between the two volumes.   Full volume rigid registration will not work for all situations such as two scans of a foot which are flexed in a different way.  Rigid registration works best when the two scans are from the same person and the volume in question doesn't change shape (such as head scans).  Other types of registration will allows the 'moving' volume to be distorted until it matches the 'fixed' volume.  This can be simple affine (scaling) all the way to template matching (warping).   Find the scans used at: PreOp   PostOp   And of course 3DSlicer - https://www.slicer.org/

mikefazz

mikefazz

 

Dicom Primer

In this tutorial I will cover some of the basics on working with dicom data with a focus on anatomizing, and reading into medical imaging software as well as how to potentially fix problematic scans.     So first of all what is DICOM data?  It is a standard file type for basically all medical imaging devices (CT, MRI, US, PET, X-ray, etc), DICOM stands for Digital Imaging and COmmunication in Medicine and along with the file format, and the tags, it is designed to be transferred and stored with PACS.  The DICOM standard can be found at their homepage.     The useful bits for the purpose of creating anatomical models and particularly values that define the volume geometry can be found in 'tags'.  These are in each image/slice header file (metadata).  They are two 4 digit hexadecimal values assigned to a particular type of value like:   (0018, 0088) Spacing Between Slices   To find the official library of these tags go to the standard on the dicom home page and go down to "Part 6: Data Dictionary".  When opened scrolling down will reveal just how immense the dicom standard is.  Now this library just gives you the tag and the name but not much information about that tag.  To get a bit more of a description use Dicom Lookup and type in the tag or name to find more information.   Before looking at data a mention on anatomizing data.  The goal is to remove any information that can be traced back to the original person without removing other important information like modality, etc...  To get an official type of list of these values go to HIPPA and find there de-identification guidance document.  In general (pages 7 and 8) remove all names, dates, addresses, times, and other sensitive information like SSN.   Now to actually look at the data I have for years used ImageJ which has been updated to Fiji.  Open an image from the scan CD and click 'CNTR+I' to open the header file and see what is in there.     Fiji (ImageJ) is a very simple and useful program for looking at data.  It is mostly made for working in 2D so in that way is kind of outdated compared to modern medical imaging software like 3DSlicer but it still has its place.  Fiji can save a stack of images as an nrrd file so if for some reason 3DSlicer doesn't want to load a scan correctly Fiji gives you another option.   So as useful as Fiji is; for anonymising and changing the values of tags I would suggest Dicom Browser.  I personally use some code in Matlab to automate the process but that is an expensive and cumbersome tool for the average user.  Open the folder with the data in Dicom Browser and when the main folder is selected the values from each slice are stacked on top of each other.  To anonymise the data select a value and set it to 'clear'     Find all relevant information and clear it or change its value to something that can't be traced to the person (like patient A001).  This is also where geometrical values like slice thickness can be changed if that is necessary to get a scan to load properly.  Once all the values are changed save the new dicom files and open the new ones again in ImageJ just to check that it all worked and that no PID (Patient Identifier Data) was missed.   As to fixing data the most common issue I have come across is an incorrect slice spacing which causes the scan to be shrunk or stretched.  There are a few values that control this and different programs will use different values.  'SliceThickness' is sometimes used which is bad.  The best is to use the 'ImagePositionPatient' which changes for each slice/image.  'SliceSpacing' is often used as well which is better than 'SliceThickness'.  If you suspect your slice spacing value is wrong calculate the difference between two consecutive 'ImagePositionPatient' values and check it against the slice spacing if they are not equal something is amiss.    Now you have anonymized and potentially fixed data that you can send to a friend, share here on embodi3D or load up in medical imaging software like my favorite 3DSlicer.   When dicom data (anonymized or not) is loaded into 3DSlicer and saved to an nrrd file (see Dr. Mike's tutorial) you will have a single volume file which is inherently anonymized.  Opening the *.nrrd file in a text editor like notepad++ there are a few lines at the top which are basically your new header file.  It is very minimal and doesn't include a great deal of the information that was in the original dicom files like modality, scan type and settings.  This is fine if all you want to do is create a model from it but it can be helpful to have other information then what you have in an nrrd file, so anonymized dicom will be better in some situations.

mikefazz

mikefazz

 

embodi3D November 2016 Newsletter

Welcome to our November 2016 newsletter! We will discuss our medical 3D printing tool and highlight a new website feature.   Dr. Mike is at the RSNA Annual Meeting in Chicago. If you are attending the conference, make sure to check out the expanded 3D printing exhibits and attend one of Dr. Mike’s workshops “3D Printing Hands-on with Open Source Software”.   democratiz3D: Medical 3D Printing for All At the end of September we launched a tool that converts a medical CT scan into a bone STL model and optimizes it for 3D printing. Once complete, you can download your file, share it with the community, or sell it in our Marketplace. We have made so many improvements in the last 2 months that we are renaming the service “democratiz3D(TM)” – reflecting our mission to democratize medical 3D printing by making it easily accessible to anyone, through tutorials, blogs, discussion forums, a marketplace, and now software. What used to require expensive software or complicated workflows is now done in minutes with democratiz3D(TM). Dr. Mike has put together several tutorials showing how to use this tool.     democratiz3D currently lets our members convert a medical CT scan into: a bone STL model a muscle STL model a skin STL model Do you need a different type of file conversion or medical model? Let us know, as we keep adding more features. embodi3D's Improved Website Our website, embodi3d.com, recently underwent a major upgrade, making the site easier to navigate. A new feature we want to highlight is the Activity menu navigation tab. This is where you can find recent site updates at a glance. You can set up streams to get updates on content created by members you follow, making it easier for you to track content you are most interested in. A snapshot of a portion of the November activity feed is below.   We Want Your Feedback We would like to thank our members who have provided feedback and thus contributed to the improvements we covered in this newsletter. Please keep sending us your feedback and making the experience better for everyone!   Let's grow our community together! The Embodi3D Team

embodi3d

embodi3d

Creating 3D Printable Medical Models and STL Files for Free: Online Services vs. Desktop Software - Slicer and Meshmixer

Note: This tutorial accompanies a workshop I presented at the 2016 Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) meeting. The workflow and techniques presented in this tutorial and the conference workshop are identical.     In this tutorial we will be using two different ways to create a 3-D printable medical model of a head and neck which will be derived from a real contrast-enhanced CT scan. The model will show detailed anatomy of the bones, as well as the veins and arteries. We will independently create this model using two separate methods. First, we will automatically generate the model using the free online service embodi3D.com. Next, we will create the same file using free desktop software programs 3D Slicer and Meshmixer.   If you haven't already, please download the associated file pack which contains the files you'll need to follow along with this tutorial. Following along with the actual files used here will make learning these techniques much easier. The file pack is free. You need to be logged into your embodi3D account to download, but registration is also free and only takes a minute. Also, you'll need an embodi3D.com account in order to use the online service. Registration is worth it, so if you haven't already go ahead and register now.   >> DOWNLOAD THE FILE PACK NOW <<   Online Service: embodi3D.com     Step 1: Go to the embodi3D.com website and click on the democratiz3D menu item in the naw bar. Click on the "Launch democratizD" link, as shown in Figure 1.   Figure 1: Opening the free online 3D model making service service democratiz3D.   Step 2: Now you have to upload your imaging file. Drag and drop the file MANIX Angio CT.nrrd from the File Pack, as shown in Figure 2. This contains the CT scan of the head and neck in NRRD file format. If you are using a file other NRRD that provided by the file pack, please be aware the file must contain a CT scan (NOT MRI!) and the file must be in NRRD format. If you don't know how to create an NRRD file, here is a simple tutorial that explains how.   Figure 2: Dragging and dropping the NRRD file to start uploading.   Step 3: Type in basic information on the file being uploaded, including File name, file description, and whether you want to share the file or keep it private. Bear in mind that this information pertains to the uploaded file, not the file that will be generated by the service.
Step 4: Type in basic parameters for file processing. Turn on the processing slider. Here you will enter in basic information about how you would like the file to be processed. Under Operation, select CT NRRD to Bone STL Detailed, as shown in Figure 3. This will convert a CT scan in NRRD format to a bone STL with high detail. You also have the option to create muscle and skin STL files. The standard operation, CT NRRD to Bone STL sacrifices some detail for a smoother output model. Leave the default threshold at 150.   Figure 3: Selecting an operation for file conversion.   Next, choose the quality of your output file. Low-quality files process quickly and are appropriate for structures with simple geometry. High quality files take longer to process and are appropriate for very complex geometry. The geometry of our model will be quite complex, so choose high quality. This may take a long time to process however, sometimes up to 40 minutes. If you don't wish to wait so long, you can choose medium quality, as shown in Figure 4, and have a pretty decent output file in about 12 minutes or so.     Figure 4: Choosing a quality setting.   Finally, specify whether you want your processed file to be shared with the community (encouraged) or private and accessible only to you. If you do decide to share you will need to fill out a few items, such as which CreativeCommons license to share under. If you're not sure, the defaults are appropriate for most people. If you do decide to share thanks very much! The 3D printing community thanks you!   Click on the submit button and your file will be submitted for processing! Now all you have to do is wait. The service will do all the work for you!   Step 5: Download your file. In 5 to 40 minutes you should receive an email indicating that your file is done and is ready for download. Follow the link in the email message or, if you are already on the embodi3D.com website, click on your profile to view your latest activity, including files belonging to you. Open the download page for your file and click on the "Download this file" button to download your newly created STL file!   Figure 5: Downloading your newly completed STL file.     Desktop software If you haven't already, download 3D Slicer and Meshmixer. Both of these programs are available on Macintosh and Windows platforms.   Step 1: Create an STL file with 3D Slicer. Open 3D Slicer. Drag and drop the file MANIX Angio CT.nrrd from the file pack onto the 3D Slicer window. This should load the file into 3D Slicer, as shown in Figure 6. When Slicer asks you to confirm whether you want to add the file, click OK.   Figure 6: Opening the NRRD file in 3D Slicer using drag-and-drop.   Step 2: Convert the CT scan into an STL file. From within Slicer, open the Modules menu item and choose All Modules, Grayscale Model Maker, as shown in Figure 7.   Figure 7: Opening the Grayscale Model Maker module.   Next, enter the conversion parameters for Grayscale Model Maker in the parameters window on the left. Under Input Volume select MANIX Angio CT. Under Output Geometry choose "Create new model." Slicer will create a new model with the default name such as "Output Geometry. If you wish to rename this to something more descriptive, choose Rename current model under the same menu. For this tutorial I am calling the model "RSNA model."   For Threshold, set the value to 150. Under Decimate, set the value to 0.75. Double check your settings to make sure everything is correct. When everything is filled in correctly click the Apply button, as shown in Figure 8. Slicer will process for about a minute.   Figure 8: Filling in the Grayscale Model Maker parameters.   Step 3: Save the new model to STL file format. Now it is time to create an STL file from our digital model. Click on the Save button on the upper left-hand corner of the Slicer window. The Save Scene pop-up window is now shown. Find the row that corresponds to the model name you have given the model. In my case it is called "RSNA model." Make sure that the checkbox next to this row is checked, and all other rows are unchecked. Next, under the File Format column make sure to specify STL. Finally, specify the directory that the new STL file is to be saved into. Double check everything. When you are ready, click Saved. This is all shown in Figure 9. Now that you've created an STL file, we need to postprocessing in Meshmixer.   Figure 9: Saving your file to STL format.   Step 4: Open Meshmixer, and drag-and-drop the newly created STL file onto the Meshmixer window to open it. Once the model opens, you will notice that there are many red dots scattered throughout the model. These represent errors in the mesh and need to be corrected, as shown in Figure 10. Figure 10: Errors in the mesh as shown in Meshmixer. Each red dot corresponds to an error.   Step 5: Remove disconnected elements from the mesh. There are many disconnected elements in this model that we do not want in our final model. An example of unwanted mesh are the flat plates on either side of the head from the pillow that was used to secure the head during the CT scan. Let's get rid of this unwanted mesh.   First use the select tool and place the cursor over the four head of the model and left click. The area under the cursor should turn orange, indicating that those polygons have been selected, as shown in Figure 11.   Figure 11: Selecting a small zone on the forehead.   Next, we are going to expand the selection to encompass all geometry that is attached to the area that we currently have selected. Go to the Modify menu item and select Expand to Connected. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut and select the E key. This operation is shown in Figure 12.   Figure 12: Expanding the selection to all connected parts.   You will notice that the right clavicle and right scapula have not been selected. This is because these parts are not directly connected to the rest of the skeleton, as shown in Figure 13. We wish to include these in our model, so using the select tool left click on each of these parts to highlight a small area. Then expand the selection to connected again by hitting the E key.   Figure 13: The right clavicle and right scapula are not included in the selection because they are not connected to the rest of the skeleton. Individually select these parts and expand the selection again to include them.   At this point you should have all the geometry we want included in the model selected in orange, as shown in Figure 14.   Figure 14: All the desired geometry is selected in orange   Next we are going to delete all the unwanted geometry that is currently unselected. To start this we will first invert the selection. Under the modify menu, select Invert. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut I, as shown in Figure 15.   Figure 15: Inverting the selection.   At this point only the undesired geometry should be highlighted in orange, as shown in Figure 16. This unwanted geometry cannot be deleted by going to the Edit menu and selecting Discard. Alternatively you can use the keyboard shortcut X. Figure 16: Only the unwanted geometry is highlighted in orange. This is ready to delete.   Step 6: Correcting mesh errors using the Inspector tool. Meshmixer has a nice tool that will automatically fix many mesh errors. Click on the Analysis button and choose Inspector. Meshmixer will now identify all of the errors currently in the mesh. These are indicated by red, blue, and pink balls with lines pointing to the location of the error. As you can see from Figure 17, there are hundreds of errors still within our mesh. We can attempt to auto repair them by clicking on the Auto Repair All button. At the end of the operation most of the errors have been fixed, but if you remain. This can be seen in Figure 18.   Figure 17: Errors in the mesh. Most of these can be corrected using the Inspector tool.   Figure 18: Only a few errors remain after auto correction with the Inspector tool.   Step 7: Correcting the remaining errors using the Remesh tool. Click on the select button to turn on the select tool. Expand the selection to connected parts by choosing Modify, Expand to Connected. The entire model should now be highlighted and origin color. Next under the edit menu choose Remesh, or use the R keyboard shortcut, as shown in Figure 19. This operation will take some time, six or eight minutes depending on the speed of your computer. What remesh does is it recalculates the surface topography of the model and replaces each of the surface triangles with new triangles that are more regular and uniform in appearance. Since our model has a considerable amount of surface area and polygons, the remesh operation takes some time. Remesh also has the ability to eliminate some geometric problems that can prevent all errors from being automatically fixed in Inspector. Figure 19: Using the Remesh tool.   Step 8: Fixing the remaining errors using the Inspector tool. Once the remesh operation is completed we will go back and repeat Step 6 and run the Inspector tool again. Click on Analysis and choose Inspector. Inspector will highlight the errors. Currently there are only two, as shown in Figure 20. These two remaining errors can be easily auto repair using the Auto Repair All button. Go ahead and click on this. Figure 20: running the Inspector tool again.   At this point the model is now completed and ready for 3D printing as shown in Figure 21. The mesh is error-free and ready to go! Congratulations! Figure 21: The final, error-free model ready for 3D printing. Conclusion Complex bone and vascular models, such as the head and neck model we created in this tutorial, can be created using either the free online service at embodi3D.com or using free desktop software. Each approach has its benefits. The online service is easier to use, faster, and produces high quality models with minimal user input. Additionally, multiple models can be processed simultaneously so it is possible to batch process multiple files at once. The desktop approach using 3D Slicer and Meshmixer requires more user input and thus more time, however the user has greater control over individual design decisions about the model. Both methods are viable for creating high quality 3D printable medical models.   Thank you very much for reading this tutorial. Please share your medical 3D printing designs on the embodi3D.com website. Happy 3D printing!

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

How to Create a Hollow Shell from a Medical STL File Using MeshMixer

In this brief tutorial we will go over how to use Meshmixer to create a hollow shell from a medical 3D printable STL file. Hollowing out the shell, as shown in the pictures below, can allow you to 3D print the model using much less material that printing a solid piece. The print will take less time and cost less money.   For this tutorial we will use a head that we created from a real medical CT scan in a prior tutorial, " Easily Create 3D Printable Muscle and Skin STL Files from Medical CT Scans" If you haven't seen the prior tutorial, please check it out.     To follow along with the tutorial, please download the accompanying file. This will enable you to replicate the process exactly as it is shown in the tutorial.    >> DOWNLOAD THE TUTORIAL FILE NOW <<      

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

Role of 3D Printing in Scoliosis Correction Surgery

Role of 3D Printing in Scoliosis Correction Surgery     Scoliosis is a medical condition in which a person's spine has a sideways curve. The curve is usually "S" or "C" shaped. Scoliosis occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty.  In some cases, the person suffering from the disease can be left unable to stand up straight, to walk, or even, in the most severe cases, to breathe properly. In the most severe scoliosis cases, however, surgery is the only option. Back surgery is never a minor procedure, and scoliosis surgery is especially tricky, as it requires screws or wires to be placed throughout multiple vertebrae and then connected to stabilize the back         Fig: Scoliosis Example     3D printing has done quite a bit to make scoliosis treatment less agonizing for even severe cases. Here is an over view of how 3D Printing is a complete package in diagnosing, treatment and rehabilitation for scoliosis patients.     ·        3D Printed Patient Specific Models for Pre-Surgical Planning       Recognition of complex anatomical structures in scoliosis can sometimes be difficult to attain from simple 2D radio-graphic views. 3D models of patients’ anatomy facilitate this task and allow doctors to familiarize themselves with a specific patient. This approach proved to reduce drastically OT time, especially in complex scoliosis cases. Getting to know patients’ anatomy before entering an OT allows to plan the exact approach, helps to predict bottlenecks and even test procedures beforehand.          Fig: Scoliosis Pre operative model to be 3D Printed.     No standard models nor 2D images can replace 3D printing as the first do not represent the specific case in debate and the latter may hide important details, especially in the spatial relationship between structures. 3D prints may be as well used by a doctor to explain to a patient his or her condition. Offering a patient possibility to understand his case and procedure may be reassuring and produce better treatment outcome by reducing stress and insecurity.     ·        3D Printed Patient Specific Surgical Guides in Scoliosis      Another recent advancement in the 3D Printing applications for spine surgeries are the 3D-printed Patient specific pedicle screw guides, realized in a customized manner with 3D printers. Their aim is to orient and guide in a precise fashion the placement of the screw in the pedicle. In complex scoliosis cases and revision surgeries it is very difficult to find the pedicle and the entry point for the screw guides. 3D Printing addresses this challenge and proves to be accurate, this level of accuracy is absolutely useful for patients with scoliosis, whose common anatomical landmarks can be in an abnormal position or might be not easily recognizable.       Fig: Patient specific 3D printed guides.       The guides involve surgical planning and software assisting surgical placement of pedicle screws designed specifically for a patients' unique anatomy. It is essentially a 3D printed surgical tool that fits the patient's unique anatomy. The 3D Printed surgical guides are printed in SLS and are bio compatible to be used on the patient's body. It is easy to see how these new customizable tools can greatly improve Scoliosis Surgery outcomes. These enhanced tools promise to improve patient satisfaction and physician performance, using the tailor-made patient-specific guides for the spine vertebrae utilizing proprietary CT scan algorithms and sophisticated 3-D medical printing technology.     ·        3D Printed Patient Specific Braces for Scoliosis     Moderately severe scoliosis (30-45 degrees) in a child who is still growing may require bracing. The main goal of 3D Printed scoliosis brace is to combine fashion, design, and technology to create a brace far more appealing to patients, and, as a result, far more effective medically.       Fig: 3D Printed scoliosis Brace.     The 3D Printed patient specific brace represents a meaningful innovation in scoliosis treatment. Using advanced 3D scanning and printing technology, the Scoliosis Brace addresses the most common objections to traditional bracing. The 3D Printed braces are usually printed in SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) for its strength durability and aesthetic features along with bio compatibility. This is what happens when Design innovation meets Medical Innovation.     To conclude the use of three dimensional printing in scoliosis surgeries has a wide range of applications from pre operative models to patient specific guides and orthotics proving to be a complete package in aiding Scoliosis surgeries and treatment.

DevarshVyas

DevarshVyas

 

Increasing Role of 3D Printing in Cancer Screening

In spite of extensive research, the medical fraternity has not reached a consensus on what causes cancer and how it should be treated. Nonetheless, almost everyone agrees that early and accurate diagnosis is crucial for successful recovery. In fact, early detection can lead to a 70 percent decline in cervical cancer mortality, as per the Canary Foundation. Early diagnoses of colon cancer can increase the patient’s five-year survival rate from 11 percent to 91 percent. Almost 100 percent of the patients with breast and prostate cancer survive for more than five years when the condition is revealed at an early stage. Consequently, millions of dollars are being spent on developing and improving diagnostic techniques such as MRI scans, CT scans, PAP smears and mammograms. While these procedures have been immensely successful, they can be very expensive and may not be accessible to everyone. Some screening methods are associated with bleeding and other unwanted side effects. They can also lead to false-positive and false-negative reactions. Surprisingly, three-dimensional (3D) medical printing and bioprinting technology is paving the way for newer cancer screening techniques that are more sensitive, specific and cost effective. The technology allows the user to deposit desired materials on a substrate in a specific pattern to create medical devices, implants and prosthetics as per the needs of the patient. Simplified Blood Testing Miriam, a 3D printed blood testing device from Miroculus, uses proprietary microRNA detection technology and digital microfluids to identify early stage cancer at the molecular level. The company is focusing on gastric cancer at this time and has collaborated with the National Institute of Health to conduct clinical trials for the diagnostic device. The goal is to provide doctors with a simple tool to identify patients who require additional testing. This can help save thousands of dollars in the long run and make cancer screening available to patients in the poorest parts of the world.   Printing the Ducts Another major challenge is to identify malignant tumors accurately. Doctors estimate that about 20 to 50 percent of breast tumors become invasive. However, the oncologists cannot determine which ones would worsen with time and hence, end up treating every patient with expensive and harmful medications. Researchers at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Carnegie Mellon University are relying on the 3D printing technology to print the duct between the mammary gland and the nipple. They hope to use the duct to grow breast tumors artificially in the lab and detect biomarkers that identify potentially malignant tumors. Mobile Devices Israeli startup MobileODT has developed a 3D printed mobile accessory known as the Mobile Coloscope. The doctors can attach the accessory to any smartphone and use it to click magnified images of the cervix. The images can help diagnose cervical cancer at an early stage. A disproportionately large number of women die of cervical cancer in the developing world due to inaccurate and delayed diagnosis. MobileODT hopes their device will help physicians overcome this hurdle. The success of these prototypes is inspiring other scientists to find novel cancer screening methods using 3D printing. Several projects have received millions of dollars in grant money with both healthcare professionals and scientists betting heavily on this technology. Soon, 3D printed devices may change the way physicians diagnose and treat cancer, and thereby help lower mortality rates significantly.

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

Easily Create 3D Printable Muscle and Skin STL Files from Medical CT Scans

In this tutorial we will learn how to use the free medical imaging conversion service on embodi3D.com to create detailed anatomic muscle and skin 3D printable models in STL file format from medical CT scans. Muscle models show the detailed musculature by subtracting away the skin and fat. Even when created from a scan of an obese person, the model looks like it comes from a bodybuilder, Figure 1A. Skin models show an exact replica of the skin surface. The finest details are captured, including wrinkles and veins underneath the skin. Hair however is not captured in a CT scan and thus the model does not have any hair, Figure 1B. Figure 1A (left): A muscle 3D printable model. Figure 1B (right): A skin 3D printable model   These models can be used for a variety of purposes such as medical and scientific education and research. Additionally, the skin models can be used to re-create a person's likeness in 3D from a medical scan. If you have had a CT scan of the head, you can create a lifelike replica of your head. You can create replicas of your friends, family, or even pets if they have had a medical CT scan. Alternatively, if you have a loved one who passed away but had a CT scan prior to death, you can use the scan to re-create an exact replica of their face. Even scans that are years old can be used for this purpose. Some people may consider this to be a little creepy, so if you are considering doing this think carefully first.   Before proceeding please register for an embodi3D.com account if you haven't already. You will need an account to use the service. It is highly recommended that you download the associated file pack for this tutorial so that you can follow along with the exact same files that are used in this tutorial.   >> DOWNLOAD THE FREE FILE PACK BY CLICKING HERE <<   If you are interested in learning how to use the free embodi3D.com service, see my prior tutorials on creating bone models, processing multiple models simultaneously, and sharing and selling your models on the embodi3D.com website.       If you are interested in converting your own CT scan or that of a friend or family member, you can go to the radiology department of the hospital or clinic that did the scan and ask for the scan to be put on a CD or DVD for you. Figure 2 shows the radiology department at my hospital, called Image Management, and the CDs that they give out. Most radiology departments will have you sign a written release and give you a CD or DVD for free or with a small processing fee. If you are a doctor or other healthcare provider and want to 3D print a model for a patient, the radiology department can also help you. There are multiple online repositories of anonymized CT scans for research that are also available. If you have downloaded the file pack for this tutorial, example CT scans are included   Figure 2A, the Image Management (radiology) department at my hospital, where you can pick up a DVD of your CT scan as shown in Figure 2B (right). My hospital does this for free, but some may charge a trivial fee.   PART 1: Creating a Muscle STL model from NRRD File   Before we begin please bear in mind that this process only works for CT scan images. It will not work for MRI images. Before proceeding please check that the scan you wish to convert is a CT (CAT) scan!   Step 1: Convert Your CT scan to an Anonymized NRRD File with 3D Slicer Open 3D Slicer. If you don't have the software program you can download it for free from slicer.org. Once Slicer has opened, take the folder from the download pack that is called STS_004. This folder contains anonymized DICOM images from a CT scan of the legs of a 24-year-old woman who had a muscle tumor. Drag and drop the entire folder onto the Slicer window, as shown in Figure 3. Slicer will ask you if you want to load the images into the DICOM database. Click OK. Slicer will also ask you if it should copy the images into the database, click Copy. Slicer will take about one minute to load the scanned. Figure 3: Drag-and-drop the STS_004 DICOM folder from the file pack onto the Slicer window   Next, load the scan into the active wor king area in slicer. If the DICOM browser is not open, click on the Show DICOM browser button, as shown in Figure 4. Click on the STS_004 patient and series, and click the Load button, as shown in Figure 4. The leg CT scan will now load into the active seen within Slicer, as shown in Figure 5.   Figure 4: Open the DICOM browser and load the study into the active seen   Figure 5: The leg CT scan is shown in the active seen   Step 2: Trim the Scan so that only the Right Thigh is included. Click on the Volume Rendering module from the Modules drop-down menu as shown in Figure 6. Turn on volume rendering by clicking on the eyeball button, as shown in Figure 7. Then, center the model in the 3D pane by clicking on the crosshairs button, Figure 7. If you don't have the same window layout as shown in Figure 7, you can correct this by clicking on the Four-Up window layout from the window layout drop-down menu, as shown in Figure 8.   Figure 6: Turn on the volume rendering module   Figure 7: Center the rendered volume.   Figure 8: Make sure you are in the Four-Up window layout   Next we are going to crop the volume so that we exclude everything other than the right knee and thigh. From the modules menu, select All Modules, Crop Volume, as shown in Figure 9. Turn on ROI visibility by clicking on the eyeball button, as shown in Figure 10. Then, move the region of interest box so that it only encapsulates the right thigh, as shown in Figure 10. You can adjust the size of the box by grabbing on the colored circular handles and moving the sides of the box as needed.   Figure 9: The Crop Volume module.   Figure 10: Turning on and adjusting the crop volume ROI (Region Of Interest) Once the crop volume ROI is adjusted to the area that you want, perform the crop by clicking on the Crop button, Figure 11.   Figure 11: the Crop button.   The new, smaller volume that encompasses the right fight and knee has been assigned a cryptic name. The entire scan had a name of "2: CT IMAGES – RESEARCH," and the new thigh volume has a name "2: CT IMAGES-RESEARCH-subvolume-scale_1." That's a mouthful and I want to rename it to something more descriptive. I'm going to select the Volumes module, and then select the "2: CT IMAGES-RESEARCH-subvolume-scale_1" from the Active Volume drop-down menu. Then, from the same drop-down menu I'm going to select "Rename Current Volume". Type in whatever name you want. In this case I'm choosing "right thigh."   Figure 12: Renaming the newly cropped volume.   Step 3: Save the right thigh volume as an anonymized NRRD file.   Click on the Save button in the upper left-hand corner. The save window is then shown. All the checkboxes on the left except for the one that corresponds to the right by. Make sure the file format for this line says NRRD (.nrrd). Make sure you specify the proper directory you want the file to be saved as. When you are satisfied click on save. This is demonstrated in Figure 13. In the specified directory you should see a called right thigh.nrrd. Figure 13: The save file options.   Step 4: Upload the NRRD file to embodi3D.com   Make sure you are logged into your embodi3D.com account. Click on Imag3D from the nav bar, Launch App. Then drag-and-drop your NRRD file onto the upload pain, as shown in Figure 14. Figure 14: Uploading the NRRD file to embodi3D.com.   While the file is uploading, fill in the required fields, including the name of the uploaded file, a brief description, file privacy, and license type. Except the terms of use. next, turn on Imag3D processing.  Under operation, select "CT NRRD to Muscle STL."  Leave the threshold value unchanged. Under quality, select medium or high. Specify your privacy preference for your output STL file. If you are going to share this file, you can choose to share it for free or sell it. Please see my separate tutorial on how to share and sell your files on the embodi3D.com website for additional details. When you're happy with your choices, save the file, as shown in Figure 15: Figure 15: File processing options.   Step 5: Download your new STL file after processing is completed.   In about 5 to 15 minutes you should receive an email that says your file has finished processing and is ready to download. Follow the link in the email or access the new file via your profile on the embodi3D.com website. Your newly created STL file should have several rendered thumbnails associated with it on its download page. If you want to download the file click on the Download button, as shown in Figure 16. Figure 16: the download page for your new muscle STL file   I opened the file in AutoDesk MeshMixer to have another look at it, and it looks terrific, as shown in Figure 17. This file is ready to 3D print! Figure 17: The final 3D printable muscle model. PART 2: Creating a Skin Model STL File Ready for 3D Printing Creating a skin model is essentially identical to creating the muscle model, except instead of choosing the CT NRRD to Muscle STL on the embodi3D.com service, we choose CT NRRD to Skin STL. Step 1: Load DICOM image set into Slicer   Launch Slicer. From the tutorial file pack drag and drop the MANIX folder onto the Slicer window to load this head and neck CT scan data set. This is shown in Figure 18.   Figure 18: Loading the head and neck CT scan into Slicer. It may take a minute or two to load. From the DICOM browser, click on the ANGIO CT series as shown in Figure 19.   Figure 19: Loading the ANGIO CT series from the MANIX data set   Step 2: Skip the trimming and crop volume operations   In this case we don't need to trim and crop a volume as we did with the muscle file above. We can skip Step 2. Step 3: Save the CT scan in NRRD format. Just as with the muscle file above, save the volume in NRRD format. Click on the save button, make sure that the checkbox for the nrrd file is selected and all other checkboxes are deselected. Specify the correct directory you want the file to be saved in, and click Save.   Step 4: Upload your NRRD file of the head to the embodi3D website. Just as with the muscle file process as shown above, upload the head NRRD file to the embodi3D.com website. Enter in the required fields. In this case, however, under Operation choose the CT NRRD to Skin STL operation, as shown in Figure 20. Figure 20: Selecting the CT NRRD to Skin STL file operation   Step 5: Download your new Skin STL file   After about 5 to 15 minutes, you should receive an email that says your file processing has been completed. Follow the link in the email or look for your file in the list the files you own in your profile. You should see that your skin STL file has been completed, with several rendered images, as shown in Figure 21. Go ahead and download your file. You can then check the quality of your file in Meshmixer as shown in Figure 22. In this instance everything looks great and the file is error free and ready for 3D printing.  
Figure 21: The download page for your newly created 3D printable skin STL file.   Figure 22: Opening the file in Meshmixer for quality control checks. The file is error free and incredibly lifelike. It is ready for 3D printing.   Thank you very much! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you use this service to create 3D printable models, please consider sharing your models with the embodi3D community. Here is a detailed tutorial that I wrote on exactly how to do this. This community is built on medical 3D makers helping  each other. Please share the models that you create!
 

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

 

Will 3D printed organs-on-chips replace animal testing?

Harvard University researchers have 3D printed the first organ-on-a-chip with integrated sensors. This new technology could revolutionize the biomedical research field, which has relied on expensive and time-consuming animal studies and cell cultures for decades. Organs-on-chips, or microphysiological systems (MPS), are microchips that recapitulate the microarchitecture and functions of living human organs in vitro. The Wyss Institute at Harvard University explains MPS as follows: “Each individual organ-on-chip is composed of a clear flexible polymer about the size of a computer memory stick that contains hollow microfluidic channels lined by living human cells interfaced with a human endothelial cell-lined artificial vasculature, and mechanical forces can be applied to mimic the physical microenvironment of living organs.”  Typically, MPS are made in clean rooms using a complex, multi-step lithographic process. Collecting data requires microscopy or high-speed cameras. What makes this new MPS different, is the simplified manufacturing process and the integrated sensors. Both improvements were accomplished with multi-material 3D printing. The researchers designed six “inks” that enable integration of sensors. The researchers successfully 3D printed a heart-on-a-chip with integrated sensors. They then used the heart-on-a-chip in various studies, including drug responses.  The integrated sensors enable continuous data collection, allowing scientists to study gradual changes over longer periods of time. Read the research published in Nature Materials or watch this video to learn more:         Photo and video credit: Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University

Els

Els

 

Overcome Hair Loss with 3D Printing

Significant thinning or loss of hair can have a detrimental impact on the individual’s overall quality of life. Men and women with unhealthy hair often suffer from emotional issues and low self-esteem. The condition may also be indicative of an underlying medical problem. As per the American Hair Loss Association, two-thirds of American men experience some hair loss by the age of 35 and about 80 percent of them have significant thinning of hair by the age of 50. Approximately half of women over the age of 50 also suffer from serious hair loss. Apart from genetics and lifestyle, certain medications and infections can also contribute to the condition. You will find a variety of hair loss treatments in the market today ranging from herbal products to surgical interventions. However, none of these solutions have succeeded in producing dramatic results in a consistent manner. Researchers are, therefore, looking at three-dimensional (3D) medical printing and bioprinting to find products that really work, and their efforts seem to be paying off. 3D Printing Technology to Create Cranial and Hair Implants AdviHair, a subsidiary of London-based AdviCorp PlC, has developed a unique set of cranial prosthetics known as the CNC Hair Replacement System. The company uses 3D printing technology to create implants that conform to the patient’s scalp measurement and skin color. The product can help conceal partial or full scalp baldness associated with Alopecia. Once the prosthetic scalp is placed in position, it behaves like regular hair. You can swim, wash and style it the way you want. The product is expected to benefit more than 6.8 million Americans suffering from Alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the patient’s immune system destroys his own hair follicles. The prosthetics are ideal for individuals who cannot undergo transplantation or other Alopecia treatments. Cosmetic giant L’ Oreal has collaborated with French bioprinting company Poietis to print hair follicles that will enhance their understanding of hair biology. The process involves creation of a digital map that indicates the exact position of the living cells and other tissue fragments. The digital map is used to generate instructions for the printing process. A pulsing laser bounces off a mirror through a lens and knocks one micro-droplet of the bio-ink into its position. Approximately 10,000 such droplets are deposited each second. L’Oreal is hoping to use this technology to create products that will treat and prevent hair loss at a realistic price. Improved 3D Printing Software for Hair Implants Although 3D printed cranial prosthetics and hair implants are gaining popularity, many of them take several hours to print. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab are, therefore, working on a software platform called Cilllia that allows users to print hair-like structures within minutes. Additionally, researchers at the institute are looking beyond the aesthetics to explore other major functions of the follicles including adhesion, sensing, thermal protection and actuation. Hair loss can be stressful and overwhelming, and the treatments can be expensive. Many patients experience poor results in spite of their best efforts. Scientists are now using 3D printing to overcome the drawbacks associated with conventional treatments, and their recent success is offering hope to the millions of hair loss sufferers across the globe.

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

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