This month we are going to meet Vjekoslav Kopacin @kopachini. Dr. Kopacin is a radiologist in the University Hospital Osijek, Croatia, interested and practicing Interventional Radiology. He also works at local Faculty of Medicine, Osijek at Department of Biophysics and Radiology who has incorporated the use of 3d printing in his daily practice and gave us his time to answer this interview to share his experience since its inception and share some advice to those who are starting in this world of 3d printing
1. What motivated you to work with 3D printing?
I started with 3D printing by accident. I was finishing my first year of radiology residency and while chatting with one of the experienced radiologist and another older colleague resident, on CT working station was VRT reconstruction of the skeleton and it came on my mind could it be 3D printed. They didn't know the answer and me at that time knew about 3D printing only what I have heard from the media (to be exact: machine similar to Star Trek replicator). One or two months later there was an article about 3D printing in medicine in Radiology journal and I started to read and learn (I always joke that was the stroke of destiny). Not long after I discovered embodi3d (to be honest, my wife found it on the internet ) and it opened more educating articles, tutorials, and new horizons and possibilities of 3d printing in medicine, so I took a bite even more.
My motivation for 3D printing is, as a radiologist, to bring untouchable anatomy from the screen to become tangible in real life so the clinicians could prepare for more complex operations. Also, I have connected with some great maxillo-facial surgeons in my hospital who were open to novel techniques, and we all together, with a help of one really smart computer science student whom I call Blender wizard Luka, started to make personalized osteotomy guides from scratch for free fibula flab mandibular reconstruction using open source software and with low and acceptable finances - something I was told that it is not possible to do if you don't have expensive equipment several years before. That was/is my main motivation - to do something or produce with low as possible finances and limited equipment and software.
2. Which 3D model do consider is your best contribution so far and why?
It is hard to single out one model, but I consider a model of palatine bone to point out because in the "sea" of bone models I couldn't find a palatine bone to 3D print for my friend's anatomy class. There was one but it had a low polygonal surface and I wasn't satisfied with it so I segmented one and it is now downloadable at embodi3d model library. Further on, there was a model of the neonatal heart with a rare congenital anomaly performed on 512 slice CT that had me stoked, another rare congenital anomaly of maxillar and mandibular fusion. Also, our every model of the personalized surgical guide has a great contribution in patient treatment outcome, so I am very proud of those models, too.
3. How is 3D printing useful for your daily work?
As a radiologist interested in interventional radiology, throughout segmentation and 3D printing I am still learning radiological anatomy and pathoanatomy of different body regions like small bones of viscerocranium (segmentation of palatine bone), pediatric congenital heart anomalies as in my hospital we don't have experience in that field, etc. Also, I am eager to bring interventional radiology to medical students, as well as fellow residents, so I making a training model for the introduction and practice of some procedures like basic vascular approach using the Seldinger technique, catheter selection, and approach, etc.
My Ph.D. project is also based on 3D printing in radiology and medical physics, so, overall, I think 3D printing is really incorporated into my daily routine and it will stay that way, for sure.
4. What do you recommend to whom is starting in the 3D medical printing world?
Nothing is impossible, you just have to find a way and a will.
Knowledge is several keystrokes away and nowadays it is closer than ever before. Find good literature and read, find good video tutorials (like ones on embodi3d web-page) and learn, join online communities who are willing to help (like this one) and you will master the art of medical 3D printing.
On the way, you will encounter envious people who will try to slow you down, but don't get intimidated, if there is will - there is a way.
If you are low with finances before any move, read, study, and don't be afraid to ask for advice.
Promote your work, success, and possibilities of 3D printing in medicine to your local medical or even non-medical community, that way you will find open-minded people interested in new techniques and projects will start coming.
A Radiologist who´s passionate about AI and imaging in any form. From x rays, ultrasound to CT, MR and 3d printing. Likes photography, music, and video games.