Patient-specific 3-dimensionally printed models for neurosurgical planning and education

Neurosurg Focus 47 (6):E12, 2019

Advances in 3-dimensional (3D) printing technology permit the rapid creation of detailed anatomical models. Integration of this technology into neurosurgical practice is still in its nascence, however. One potential application is to create models depicting neurosurgical pathology. The goal of this study was to assess the clinical value of patientspecific 3D printed models for neurosurgical planning and education.

METHODS The authors created life-sized, patient-specific models for 4 preoperative cases. Three of the cases involved adults (2 patients with petroclival meningioma and 1 with trigeminal neuralgia) and the remaining case involved a pediatric patient with craniopharyngioma. Models were derived from routine clinical imaging sequences and manufactured using commercially available software and hardware.

RESULTS Life-sized, 3D printed models depicting bony, vascular, and neural pathology relevant to each case were successfully manufactured. A variety of commercially available software and hardware were used to create and print each model from radiological sequences. The models for the adult cases were printed in separate pieces, which had to be painted by hand, and could be disassembled for detailed study, while the model for the pediatric case was printed as a single piece in separate-colored resins and could not be disassembled for study. Two of the models were used for patient education, and all were used for presurgical planning by the surgeon.

CONCLUSIONS Patient-specific 3D printed models are useful to neurosurgical practice. They may be used as a visualization aid for surgeons and patients, or for education of trainees.

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