Friday, July 11, 2014

3D Printing Changing Lives, Contributing More Than Just Life-Size Selfies

It is clear that 3D Printing is changing the world we live in today, but none more than a 5 year old boy's in Barcelona, Spain who has truly experienced the benefits of 3D Printing, which goes far and beyond just printing trinkets and life-size selfies.

A 5 year old patient named Marc was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma (The term neuro refers to nerves, while blastoma refers to a cancer that affects immature or developing cells), a common childhood cancer that typically affects children 5 years and younger. Marc has undergone cancer treatment for four years to help control this aggressive disease. While treatment remained successful, a tumor in his stomach still remained. With two previous failed attempts to remove the tumor, it was deemed inaccessible and carried too much risk to safely operate.

Jaume Mora
Jaume Mora
Image Source: www.elperiodico.com
"One of the main problems encountered by surgeons for the removal of neuroblastoma is that it is surrounded by blood vessels and arteries "and requires great precision to avoid damaging other parts of the body that would be incompatible with life," said Blackberry."

While hopes of removing the tumor seemed insurmountable, doctors of Sant Joan de Déu Hospital never gave up on Marc. With the help of Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), they were able to replicate a 3D model of the tumor and surrounding tissues. Utilizing two different types of materials, one for the organs / blood vessels and another translucent soft material for the tumor, doctors were able to rehearse the removal of the tumor with the highest level of precision and determine the best course of action to remove it while minimizing the risk of damaging the surrounding areas.

Sant Joan de Déu Hospital
The surgery ultimately was declared a success and the tumor was removed, Marc is expected to make a full recovery. Two more patients are now awaiting similar surgeries. This type of 3D modeling process is the first of it's kind for this purpose. This revolutionary new technology allows doctors to explore, rehearse complicated procedures and create a plan of action like never before without even making a single cut. This IS history in the making!

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