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Musings about biomedical 3D printing

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3D printed models help with surgery for complex congenital heart disease

3D printed models help with surgery for complex congenital heart disease

Researchers at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington DC have used 3D printed heart models to aid repair of congenital heart defects. In the International Journal of Cardiology, the researchers report the case of a patient with transposition of the great arteries, a congenital heart defect in which the pulmonary artery and aorta are switched. Without treatment this condition is fatal in infancy. The man apparently had surgical treatment as a child, but as an adult began to have pro

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

How to Create 3D Printable Models from Medical Scans in 30 Minutes Using Free Software: Osirix, Blender, and Meshmixer

How to Create 3D Printable Models from Medical Scans in 30 Minutes Using Free Software: Osirix, Blender, and Meshmixer

UPDATED TUTORIAL: A Ridiculously Easily Way to Convert CT Scans to 3D Printable Bone STL Models for Free in Minutes   Hello, it's Dr. Mike here again with another tutorial and video on medical 3D printing. In this tutorial we're going to learn how to take a DICOM-based medical imaging scan, such as a CT scan, and convert into an STL file in preparation for 3D printing. We will use the free, open-source software program Osirix to do this. Once the file is converted into STL format, we w

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

3D Printed Casts for Healing Fractures

3D Printed Casts for Healing Fractures

Deniz Karasahin recently won a A'Design award for a 3-D printed medical cast that allows for improved ventilation and patient comfort when compared to traditional plaster or fiberglass casts. The organic 3-D printed structure has multiple ventilation holes which do not, presumably, compromise the mechanical integrity or strength of the cast.   The cast is created after scanning the patients target body area and importing the data into CAD software. The cast is printed with ABS plastic

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

Medical 3D Model Creation: From CT Scan to 3D Printable STL File in 20 Minutes Using Free Software Programs 3D Slicer, Blender, and Meshmixer

Medical 3D Model Creation: From CT Scan to 3D Printable STL File in 20 Minutes Using Free Software Programs 3D Slicer, Blender, and Meshmixer

UPDATED TUTORIAL: A Ridiculously Easily Way to Convert CT Scans to 3D Printable Bone STL Models for Free in Minutes Hello, it's Dr. Mike here again with another tutorial on 3D printing. Proprietary software that creates 3D printable models from medical scans typically costs tens of thousands of dollars to license. But, did you know that you can do the same thing using freeware? It's true! In this tutorial I'm going to show you exactly how to do this.   We will be using the free,

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

How to Easily Tell the Difference Between MRI and CT Scan

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 subt

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

Saving a Spleen with 3D Printing: Pre-Surgical Planning with Medical Models make "Impossible"  Surgeries Possible.

Saving a Spleen with 3D Printing: Pre-Surgical Planning with Medical Models make "Impossible" Surgeries Possible.

Summary: 3D printing is making rapid advances in many areas of medical treatment. In this article, I'll describe how I used recent advances in 3D printing to save a patient from having to have her spleen removed. In the process I broke some new ground in use of 3D printing in surgical planning. The clinical case and 3D printing advances are described in a recently published peer-reviewed paper in the medical journal Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology.   Intro image: The author usi

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

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

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

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

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

How to create an NRRD file from a DICOM Medical Imaging Data Set

How to create an NRRD file from a DICOM Medical Imaging Data Set

NRRD is a file format for storing and visualizing medical image data. Its main benefit over DICOM, the standard file format for medical imaging, is that NRRD files are anonymized and contain no sensitive patient information. Furthermore NRRD files can store a medical scan in a single file, whereas DICOM data sets are usually comprised of a directory or directories that contain dozens if not hundreds of individual files. NRRD is thus a good file for transferring medical scan data while protecting

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

Preparing CT scans for 3D printing. Cleaning and repairing STL file mesh from bones using Blender, an advanced tutorial

Preparing CT scans for 3D printing. Cleaning and repairing STL file mesh from bones using Blender, an advanced tutorial

Summary: This is an advanced tutorial and assumes that you already know how to create STL files from CT scans. If you do not yet know how to do this, stay tuned, as a series of tutorials is planned on this website. Here we will use a free, open-source software package Blender to repair and correct a bony pelvis and lumbar spine model generated from a CT scan. If you would like to follow along with this tutorial, you can download the relevant Blender and STL files here, and follow along. >

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

3D Printing of Bones from CT Scans: A Tutorial on Quickly Correcting Extensive Mesh Errors using Blender and MeshMixer

3D Printing of Bones from CT Scans: A Tutorial on Quickly Correcting Extensive Mesh Errors using Blender and MeshMixer

Hello and welcome back. Once again, I am Dr. Mike, board-certified radiologist and 3D printing enthusiast. Today I'm going to show you how to correct severe mesh defects in a bone model generated from a CT scan. This will be in preparation for 3D printing. I'll be using the free software programs Blender and Meshmixer. In my last medical 3d printing video tutorial, I showed you how to remove extraneous mesh within the medullary cavity of a bone. That technique is best used when mesh defects

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

A Collection of Free Skull Medical Model STL Files from CT Scans - Ready for 3D Printing

A Collection of Free Skull Medical Model STL Files from CT Scans - Ready for 3D Printing

A lot of great 3D printable anatomic files have been shared on Embodi3D in the past few years. One of the most popular categories is skulls. There are many files available, and they are organized under Skull and Head STLs in the file Downloads area of the site. You can download any of these files by registering an account and in most cases the files are free to download.   Below I created a list of my favorite skull files for your learning and enjoyment. These 3D printable skull m

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

3D printed skull base generated from CT scan data accurately demonstrates complex skull base anatomy.

3D printed skull base generated from CT scan data accurately demonstrates complex skull base anatomy.

The base of the skull is one of the most complex and difficult parts of the body for doctors in training to master. And one of the most important. It is comprised of multiple bones (the ethmoid, sphenoid, occipital, frontal, parietal, and temporal, to be exact) and has numerous foramina (holes) through which arteries, veins, and the vital cranial nerves and spinal cord exit the skull on their way to and from the body.   These structures, although very small, are critically important c

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

Choosing the Best Medical Imaging Scan to Create a 3D Printed Medical Model

Choosing the Best Medical Imaging Scan to Create a 3D Printed Medical Model

Hello, it's Dr. Mike here again with another tutorial on medical 3D printing. In this tutorial we are going to learn what types of medical imaging scans can be used for 3D printing. We will also explore the characteristics those scans must have to ensure a high quality 3D print. This is one of a series of 3D printing tutorials that will teach you how to create 3D printed anatomical and medical models yourself. Open source and commercial software are covered in the tutorials along with 3D printer

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

Spine STL files from CT Scans for 3D printing cervical, lumbar, thoracic vertebrae for medical modeling - Download Free Collection

Spine STL files from CT Scans for 3D printing cervical, lumbar, thoracic vertebrae for medical modeling - Download Free Collection

I have received several requests for spine STL files from CT scans and these files have been added to the file vault over time as more people are 3D printing vertebrae for medical moldeling. There was a really good response to my last article about the wonderful 3D printable skull models available for free download on the embodi3D.com website. So, I've decided to do another article about spine models.   Embodi3D.com contains a large collection of spine STL files within the Spine and Pe

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

Creating a 3D Printable Skull from a CT Scan in 5 Minutes using Freeware.

Creating a 3D Printable Skull from a CT Scan in 5 Minutes using Freeware.

UPDATED TUTORIAL: A Ridiculously Easily Way to Convert CT Scans to 3D Printable Bone STL Models for Free in Minutes   Hello and welcome back. I hope you enjoyed my last tutorial on creating 3D printable medical models using free software on Macintosh computers. In this brief video tutorial I'll show you how to create a 3D printable skull STL file from a CT scan in FIVE minutes using only free and open source software. In the video I use a program called 3D Slicer, which is available fr

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

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

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

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

3D Printing Teeth Tutorial: How to Easily Create 3D Printable Dental, Orthodontic, and Maxillofacial Models from Medical CT Scans

3D Printing Teeth Tutorial: How to Easily Create 3D Printable Dental, Orthodontic, and Maxillofacial Models from Medical CT Scans

In this tutorial we will learn how to easily create a 3D printable dental, orthodontic, or maxillofacial bone model quickly and easily using the free democratiz3D® file conversion service on the embodi3D.com website. Creating the 3D printable dental model takes about 10 minutes and requires no prior experience or specialized knowledge. Dental 3D printing is one of the many uses for democratiz3D. You can 3D print teeth, braces, dental implants and so much more.       Step

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

3D Printable Lace Skull, Free for Download.

3D Printable Lace Skull, Free for Download.

I've been working on ways to artistically expand on 3D printed anatomic models beyond an exact replica of the anatomy. My first project is this Lace Skull. The skull is based on an anatomically accurate skull generated from a CT scan. I have made several of the earlier skull models available for download on the Embodi3D website here and here. Using a variety of methods, I have transformed the skull and given it a unique lace-like appearance. The overall surface contours are still anatomically ac

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

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

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 w

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

3D Printable Human Heart Model

3D Printable Human Heart Model

Lately I've been working on creating a 3D printed human heart from a CT scan. Printing cardiovascular structures like the heart is more difficult than bony structures since the blood vessels are usually not well visualized without a CT scan that uses intravenous contrast. Furthermore, the heart is always moving, and special techniques need to be performed during the scan to generate high-quality images that are free from motion artifact. This is one of several models I've been working on. I

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

3D Printed Lumbar Vertebra

3D Printed Lumbar Vertebra

Last year as part of my tests for creating bony anatomic models, I created a model of a lumbar vertebral body from a CT scan. The process was somewhat time-consuming as manual mesh editing was required to separate the vertebral body from its adjacent bony structures. I used Blender for this. Nonetheless, the end result looks good and accurately demonstrates the bony anatomy of a lumbar vertebra. I've created a YouTube video which briefly summarizes the steps of creation. Also

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

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

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 Medic

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

3D printed half-skull from CT scan shows detailed skull anatomy for students. Files available for free download.

3D printed half-skull from CT scan shows detailed skull anatomy for students. Files available for free download.

This is the second in a series of articles about skull models created from CT scan data and designed to provide a low-cost means of anatomy teaching. To see my past article about the skull base model, click here. Learning detailed anatomy is a grueling process that doctors, nurses, and other health science students must go through. Traditionally, learning anatomy involved detailed study of textbooks, but learning 3D structures from 2D pages just doesn't work well. Dissecting cadavers is the

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

3D printed white matter tracts illustrate the beauty and complexity of the human brain

3D printed white matter tracts illustrate the beauty and complexity of the human brain

Thanks to 3D printing understanding of the complex neural pathways of the human brain became a little bit easier. The Philadelphia-based Franklin Institute's new exhibit, Your Brain, features a striking 3D printed model of the white matter tracts of the human brain. White matter tracts are the pathways that nerve cells use to connect to each other inside the brain, and are incredibly complex.   Dr. Jayatri Das, chief bioscientist at The Franklin Institute, incorporated the displays in

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

Amazing 3D Printed Models on Display at RSNA 2014

Amazing 3D Printed Models on Display at RSNA 2014

3D printing is a hot topic at this year's Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) meeting in Chicago. I've been involved in medical 3D printing for the past two years, and every month there seems to be more interest. At this year's RSNA meeting, the level of interest is higher than I have ever seen before. There are literally dozens of sessions related to 3D printing in radiology, and they all seem to be very well attended. The Sunday session on "Fundamentals of 3D Printing" had a line out

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

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