University Hospital Birmingham in England has been revealed to be using Stratasys 3D Printed surgical guides to provide “improved outcomes” for patients with head and neck cancer. The hospital reported that using tailored, 3D printed cutting guides reduced surgery times by up to three hours.
This is due to the incorporation of a Stratasys J5 MediJet 3D printer, which allows the hospital to create patient-specific cutting guides prior to operations, transforming the way tumours are removed from patients with head and neck cancer.
Stratasys 3D printed surgical guides
The surgical team can now produce highly accurate devices using patient scans, with a resolution of within 150 microns, using 3D printing, which helps to support surgical outcomes. These are made of Biocompatible Clear MED610, a rigid, transparent resin that is suitable for applications that require long-term (more than 30 days) contact with intact skin and limited contact (up to 24 hours) with tissue, bone, or mucosal membranes.
“In addition to saving up to three hours of surgery time, 3D printing also enables much better surgical planning. Using patient scans, the team is able to create 3D visualisations based on the distinct anatomy of each patient – and then leverage 3D printing technology to produce both anatomical models and personalised surgical cutting guides ahead of the actual operation.”– Stefan Edmondson, consultant clinical scientist (reconstructive science) at the hospital
Edmondson continued, “This capability means we can not only accurately predict the surgery before it’s done, but that we have the tools to ensure that the meticulous pre-surgical planning can be executed with the utmost precision. The surgical team is also much better prepared and the patient is far more at ease, as we can talk through the process and expected outcomes prior to going into the operating theatre.”
According to the hospital, taking a segment of a patient’s fibula and moulding it into the exact shape and size to transplant into the target area within the head or neck while keeping bone tissue alive is a highly complex process in which 3D printing truly demonstrates superior capabilities over traditional methods.
Edmondson added, “In this scenario, if the angles you’re cutting at aren’t absolutely perfect, the bone won’t fit and there will be a higher tendency for the body to reject it, leading to significant discomfort for the patient. Thankfully, the 3D printed cutting guides are accurate to micron level, ensuring the fibula is cut to the best possible fit for our patients.”
Stratasys’ GrabCAD Print Software, which works in conjunction with this printer, has also proven to provide additional benefits. Its ability to automatically generate support material contributes to the overall time savings enabled by the 3D printing workflow.
University Hospital Birmingham has worked with Stratasys 3D printers and technologies in the past. Tri-Tech 3D, Stratasys’ UK-based reseller, provided the hospital with a multi-material, full-color printer. “Stratasys is the gold standard of 3D printers – something that is exemplified in the J5 MediJet,” Edmondson says. “Beyond its ability to produce highly accurate cutting guides and brilliantly vivid anatomic models that are biocompatible and sterilisable, it is really easy to use, which makes it a winner with our team.”
The J5 MediJet, which will be available in 2021, allows users to create multi-material, full-color prints in a single tray. The system is designed to maximise reliability and simplify maintenance by being hosted in a single office-friendly platform, which reduces outsourcing costs or the need for multiple printers.
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