Four children with life-threatening cerebrovascular malformations (abnormalities in the brain’s blood vessels) were being treated at the Boston Children’s Hospital and their treatment posed some special challenges which is why surgeons wanted to practice the high-risk procedures before performing them on the children. They turned to 3D printing and synthetic resin to recreate the patient’s affected body parts and practice the procedure.
The doctors used 3D printing and synthetic resins to recreate the patients’ deformed vessels as well as surrounding vessels and brain anatomy, this way they were able to extensively practice the procedure before performing it on the children and thus greatly reduce the risk of complications.
Boston Children’s Hospital neurosurgeon Edward Smith said that this way the surgeons were able to view the formations from different angles and practice the information with real instruments as well as receive tactile feedback.
This proved to be particularly helpful for three of the four patients who had arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) which means that their arteries and veins were tangled. This required surgeons to cut blood vessels quickly in a certain sequence with no time to waste.
Ultimately this exercise enabled the surgeons to successfully perform the procedure on the children and reduce surgery time by 30 minutes each. The hospital now plans to use 3D printing to train younger surgeons for such tricky cases.