My primary job is to safely take care of
children who have major problems with their heart. One of my secondary jobs is
to get the next generation ready to take care of children who have major problems
with their heart. 3d models are all about trying to help them do that safely,
learning on models instead of learning on patients. Here’s an opportunity with
3d models to make the mistakes on the models and then, when you go and perform on a baby, you’re an expert performer already ! Every person’s disease is
inherently different, so 3d printing for us gives us the real uncanny ability to
design a product, design a treatment, design an approach. Typically how would
you do that? Well you’d have to do a protocol and a trial on a study. Now we
can come upstairs and get the actual information off a C-arm in the lab, print
it off within several hours and a physician from downstairs just come up
and try it. The model I used today was the lumbosacral Junction model.
Anatomically it seemed very accurate. Cannulating, putting a pedicle in, putting
screw in, felt very typical or very similar to putting it in native anatomy.
The new material, it has to have better elasticity, better strength. So for the
surgical procedures, that new material is absolutely much better. The good things
about them, they are made quite soft so you can manipulate them very well. You can
retract and do better exposure because they are so malleable.
The first foray we had was in device testing. We were trying to test how
effectively a particular kind of tube could get up to the brain depending on
tortuosity. We designed a series of models with different levels of tortuosity.
From the chest all the way to the brain. And then tested the devices to
see how they perform under those circumstances. Again impossible to do in
the animals and impossible to do in patients, and really 3d printing makes it so easy to be able to do that in a smooth, streamlined fashion. If you
could operate on the person before you’re operating on them,
how would that device feel? Would you use a different device? would you not treat
the patient? would you now treat the patient differently? There is enough
complexity in disease and anatomy, that I think having this readily available at
hand can be very very useful. And most importantly provide patients a much
safer means of care.