A startup company is introducing a very interesting medical application for 3D printing.
We’ve long seen the notion of 3D printing body components with the intention of examining them in 3D to make them more prepared for the actual surgery. The idea is that surgeons would be able to, for example, see a skull fracture from all angles and distances in a way that’s superior to simple 2D viewing of a 3D model.
But Lazarus 3D of Houston has gone a step further.
Yes, they 3D print medical models as do other services, but Lazarus 3D has developed a way to print them in a flexible silicone material that is surprisingly similar in mechanical qualities to actual human tissue.
When they 3D print a kidney replica, for example, a surgeon could literally practice the operation on the model. They would be able to make cuts, spread apart tissue, remove growths, etc., just like real life. It would not be a virtual simulation; it would be as close to real as possible.
Lazarus 3D is also able to use 3D scan data from DICOM medical equipment to create 3D designs that precisely match the patient’s actual tissues.
And they are also able to combine different prints together to create representations that offer different degrees of flexibility, just like human tissue. At top is an example.
One of their many videos (located on their website, unfortunately we cannot embed it here) shows an example of a surgeon actually performing surgery on a replica kidney and it is astonishingly realistic in many ways. The 3D printed kidney replica not only includes a simulated tumor for removal, but it also bleeds. Incredible!
Lazarus 3D operates in a manner similar to a 3D print service: you send them your data and they will prepare and ship you a completed 3D print of the medical tissues requested
It seems to me that their process could improve the quality and speed of human surgery and is most definitely an excellent use of 3D printing technology.
Via Lazarus 3D