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  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. It’s easy to think of the benefits of 3D printing for teaching anthropology. The new technology allows professors to digitalize fragile fossil and bone samples for classroom use—creating a great visual teaching aid. As it turns out, 3D printing has considerable benefits for anthropologists outside of the classroom as well. For one, increasing access to fossil samples for scientists is putting collaborative research on the fast track. Digitizing fossils and making the files available to universities around the world allows more scientists to study them and bring novel hypotheses to the table. The traditional use of rubber or silicon models used to serve this purpose to a degree, but when it comes to studying the incredibly rare examples of fossil hominins (extinct species of humans), even minor errors can lead researchers down the wrong path. The old style of modeling can create bulges, bubbles and other inaccuracies in the fossil copy, especially when you’re not using the original sample. The incredible detail involved in 3D printing technology prevents these types of errors. Despite being a fairly new technology, 3D printing is already aiding anthropologists make some groundbreaking discoveries. Paleoanthropologists at Stony Brook University Department of Anatomical Sciences are utilizing 3D morphometric analyses to paint a cleaner picture of our evolutionary tree closer to Lucy’s time (australopithecus afarensis, 3.9 to 2.9 million years ago). 3D printing allowed them to get a much more detailed view of the characteristics of the femur of Orrorin, a 6 million year old fossil that could be one of the earliest hominins. By comparing the femur with Lucy’s species and other samples, they were able to determine that Orrorin likely lived in trees but walked on two feet like Lucy and modern humans. Anthropologists at the Max Plank Institute for Human Evolution are in the process of digitizing their collection of hominin fossils. Their CT machines can create a resolution as detailed as 0.8 micrometers, much better than traditional medical scanners. This allows for unprecedented analyses of miniscule structures, such as tooth enamel. This may not seem like an incredibly exciting ability, but the vast majority of discoveries in human evolution have come from analyzing fossil dentition. Breaking open rare fossil samples to learn more about their internal structures has never been an option, but 3D versions give researchers the ability to remove layers digitally. This turns fossils that were discovered 30 years ago into novel specimens again, as inner structures such as tooth roots and ear cavities become easily visible. 3D printing is helping answer questions about our much more recent past, by allowing researchers to run simulations that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. For example, researchers at the Anthropological Institute at Zurich University were able to digitally embed the remains of three Neanderthal infants into the pelvis of a Neanderthal woman, giving new insights into brain size at birth and the nature of childbirth for Neanderthals, who were once our closest living relatives. The partial pelvis was discovered in the 1930s and has been thoroughly studied, but with the help of 3D printing, the sample is allowing researchers come up with new answers to old questions. The high-resolution CT scanners anthropologists need to conduct these studies are costly, so it will be a while before the majority of universities can benefit from the technology. Still, the possibility of making digital copies of every known fossil hominin available to universities across the world is an exciting prospect for future discoveries. For more information about the case studies described here, visit: http://sb.cc.stonybrook.edu/news/general/131204earlytreedwelling.php http://www.stratasys.com/resources/case-studies/education/university-of-zurich
  4. Biomedical 3D printing is used immensely in medical science. Recently, a team of cancer researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research in London were able to use 3D printing to create customized models of cancer cells of the human body. Led by Dr. Glenn Flux, they were able to create 3D printed models to help doctors fine-tune their dosing. Also called “phantoms”, the 3D printed replicas of organ and tumors are made by first creating a CT scan of the target organs of patients who will undergo the treatment. The plastic molds are then filled with liquid which allows doctors to determine the flow of the radiopharmaceuticals or cancer drug within the body. Preliminary studies concerning the molds created by biomedical 3D printing technology indicated that it was able to map the position of the tumor inside the patient’s body. Researchers were also able to calculate the dose of radiation more accurately for each patient. The replicas were created using plastic and printed by the Department of Physics at ICR. Thanks to 3D medical printing, researchers are now able to streamline the process of printing accurate organ replicas compared to previous conventional and manual construction. The models used different types of cancer including thyroid, neuroblastoma and bone metastases. With the availability of biomedical 3D printing, it was able to fix the issues about creating anatomically accurate replicas that can help monitor the dose of radiation that patients receive during their treatment. This is definitely good news to both cancer research and cancer patients.
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