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Require qualified practicitioner to complete conversion of DICOM files to 3D printable formats


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I am working on a project which will require that we engage either a qualified individual, or a company,  to complete the conversion of MRI files into 3D printable formats, which are very precise, and can be used for medical purposes (once printed into models).  During my research, I came across this website and read several articles that had been published as a “how to” for similar conversions; as such, I am hoping that someone on this forum (or Dr. Mike, who seems to be the resident expert on the topic!) might be able to recommend an individual or company whom we could engage to perform the conversions for us. We would require these services on an ongoing basis, and although I am not yet authorized to share the specifics regarding our primary subject matter, I can tell you that the area requiring conversion would be smaller than the size of a tennis ball.

Additionally, I would like to compile information regarding what we could expect as far as the cost for a conversion of a DICOM file to .stl format, and also, a reasonable time frame for delivery (from receipt of the DICOM file, to delivery of the printable 3D file), so if you have insight into either of these areas that you are willing to share, I would really appreciate it.

Many thanks in advance,

Elle @ Clipper3D

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Hi Elle,


I urge you to be careful in how you convert DICOM to STL and to look carefully at who is doing the work for you, especially if you are using it for medical purposes. The person doing the work needs to understand exactly what the digital file is being used for. The source images have to be of high quality and free from artifacts. The images have to be of the appropriate type to best show the anatomy or pathology of interest (T1, T2, STIR? with or without contrast? What plane, axial, sagittal, coronal, oblique? What slice thickness? What magnet strength? Do you want to see arteries, veins, parenchyma, fiber tracts? etc.) The segmentation and conversion has to be done in a way that shows the anatomy of interest to a level that is medically useful. 


Although I am biased, usually this level of complexity and requisite knowledge requires the person doing the work to be a doctor, usually a radiologist or similar, especially if it is being used for surgery or implants. I once saw a model from a company (not-to-be-named) that proudly displayed an aorta model that was designed by a non-physician (see attached image). If you look closely you can see that the celiac and SMA arteries arise from the backside of the aorta. The model is backwards! I politely informed the marketing person who was showing off the model or the error and she clearly didn't believe me. Two years later they are still using this model in their marketing efforts, not knowing that any doctor who would actually treat this condition would immediately recognize that this company doesn't know front from back! 


This is a complicated and controversial topic so please feel free to message me if you have any additional questions.


Best of luck,


Dr. Mike




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