3D-Printed Body Parts Help Surgeons Separate Conjoined Twins

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3D printing is slowly becoming invaluable in medication. Not merely can scientists construct 3D-printed body parts, but they can also use the technology to help guide life-saving surgery. Just last week, for example, we heard the story of a squad practicing brain surgery utilizing a 3D replica of a womans entire brain vasculature. And now, the technology has triumphed again, helping physicians separate conjoined twins.

Born on April 11 of last year, twins Adeline and Knatalye Mata from Lubock, Texas were extensively fused, from the chest all the way down to the pelvis. This presented surgeons with an extremely convoluted separation task, perhaps one of the most intricate todate.

Knowing how complex the procedure would be, rather than relying solely on scans to guide the knives, the team decided to use these images to make replicas of the relevant body parts. After CT scans were taken of the twins, family physicians could see that the hearts were not joined, and while the livers were, there appeared to be a plane of separation that could potentially be sliced though.

The images were then used to fabricate both skeletal structures and organs utilizing multi-material 3D publish. For the former, a hard plastic resin was utilized, while the softer organs were printed utilizing a rubber-like material. The team also printed the livers separately, utilizing a white resin to highlight the major vessels. The replicas were also printed in such a way that they could be assembled or detached as the team prepared for the real procedure.

Image credit: CT scan data alongside 3D-printed replica.Krishnamurthy/ Radiological Society of Northern america

Ten months after the twins were born, a squad of more than 26 physicians, 12 ofwhich were surgeons, assembled to undertake the momentous separation task, which in total took more than a day to complete. Much to the groups relief, the models turned out to be a remarkably accurate the representatives from the actual anatomy of the infants, thus their preparations and simulations based on these replicas were not fruitless.

The surgeons discovered the landmarks for the liver, hearts and pelvic organs just like we had described, study result author and chief of radiology research and cardiac imaging at Texas Childrens Hospital, Rajesh Krishnamurthy, said in a statement. The concordance was almost perfect.

Although there was one hemorrhaging complication during the procedure, which wasnt due to a difference between the models and the twins anatomies, the surgery was a success, with both twins returning home early this summer.

Its clear such a employ of 3D printing has a place in the operating theater, but whether it will become a standard procedure for highly complex surgeries is uncertain at this stage. Unfortunately, in the U.S. at the least, what seems to be holding it back is money.

The 3D printing technology has advanced quite a bit, and the costs are declining. Whats limiting it is a lack of reimbursement for these services, explained Krishnamurthy in the statement. The procedure is not currently recognized by insurance companies, so right now hospitals are supporting the costs.

Read more: www.iflscience.com

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