Medical 2D MRI and CT scans are typically difficult for patients to understand and doctors to explain. REshape, a program set up by the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, aims to empower patients to take control of and better understand their condition.
It’s been proven that the interaction doctors have with patients is fundamental to helping them cope with their condition, as it gives them a deeper insight. However, should the patient require an operation of great complexity, such as having a brain tumor removed, they can experience confusion when talking things through with their neurosurgeon. After all, it’s not everyday a patient sees radiological images, so it can be hard for the doctor to clearly explain the surgical plan and risks. 3D printing is able to play its part in this process by creating models taken from the same MRI scans, acting as a powerful tool to help patients visually understand their problem in three dimensions, what treatment is needed and the risks involved.
“The MRI scan or CT scan is already being made. So you don’t have to do anything extra and it’s easy to create a 3D printable object from the data.”
One of the people making this happen is David Grim, the project leader at the REshape & Innovation Centre at the Radboud Hospital. Studying biomedical sciences he went into healthcare innovation to help improve the future of the field, especially from the patient’s point of view. He’s always looking for ways they can do better.
At the REshape Centre they take the 2D images from a patient’s MRI scan or CT scans and turn them into 3D printed models. It means that when a doctor is explaining the procedure to them, what the patient’s looking at is a model of what’s going on inside their own head. Not just an arbitrary model or an abstract picture. It’s a very positive experience and helps them to connect with what’s happening. And also makes it easier for the surgeon to explain everything.
BENEFITS OF 3D PRINTING IN THE PROFESSIONAL FIELD
David told us that he’s a big fan of their Ultimaker as it makes the process very cheap, it’s really easy to create 3D printed objects from the data, and that anyone can use it, even the doctors themselves. Currently their prints are mainly oncological, but the flexibility and freedom that their Ultimaker 2 Extended provides them is opening new ways to patient care and understanding. And we can’t wait to see what that will be.