The Future is Here
One of my all-time favourite movies is The Fifth Element released back in 1997. The movie revolved around a futuristic theme of good vs. evil battling for 23rd century planet Earth. The Fifth Element represented the “perfect” human being Leeloo (Milla Jovovich). Responsible for the savour of the Earth, her body was rebuilt after the recovery of cells found in the ruins of a crashed spaceship.
Fast forward almost 20 years later and what seemed “futuristic” back then is now becoming our everyday reality. One thing is for certain, the innovation that has occurred over the last 10 years is sure to pale in comparison to what is in store for the next 10 years.
3D printing has paved the way to saving money, mitigating risks, and faster development of ideas. This article by Larry Hardesty highlights 3D printing production of a 3D model of a patient’s heart.
Researchers at MIT and Boston Children’s Hospital have developed a new way to conduct MRI scans of the patient’s heart and turn it into a physical model. This is meant to help with planning the surgery and can even go as far as applying techniques on the heart model to see if they are applicable or not before cutting the patient open.
Patients and Families
Patients and families are often left behind when it comes to discussing the operation that would take place. Providing them an actual image of the heart will not only make them see what’s wrong with the organ but also help them understand how the surgeon would go about the surgery.
…having this immensely simplifies discussions with families, who find the anatomy confusing,” Emani says. “This gives them a better visual, and many patients and families have commented on how this empowers them to understand their condition better.
As stated by the article, this eliminates confusion as well as provide them a feeling that they’re in good hands.
The traditional way of planning a surgery involves a lot of discussion, theoretical outcomes, and a lot of back up plans in case something goes wrong during the operation.
The models could provide a more intuitive way for surgeons to assess and prepare for the anatomical idiosyncrasies of individual patients. “The phrase I heard is that ‘surgeons see with their hands,’ that the perception is in the touch.”
Having an actual model of the patient’s heart, and not just a generic model, provides surgeons with something to actually wrap their mind around. This enables them to not simply plan in theory but also conduct, to some extent, physical applications of their procedures. This also paves the way when it comes to preventing surgical mishaps and improve the overall quality of the surgery.
“I think having this will also reduce the incidence of residual lesions — imperfections in repair — by allowing us to simulate and plan the size and shape of patches to be used,”
The future of 3D printing will eventually pave the way for more medical breakthroughs such as 3D modeling of other organs. This can help more patients and surgeons alike accomplish more successful operations in the future.
Read the full article here