Surgeons use mife-like transparent and full color 3D printed models to prepare kidney-sparing operations and improve patient outcomes

Bordeaux University Hospital (CHU) in France is currently enjoying the installation of a Stratasys J750 , a multi-material 3D Printer. The installation of this 3D Printer has been made possible thanks to three partners: the European Union, the Regional Council of Nouvelle Aquitaine and theBordeaux University Foundation, of which the CHU is a part.

The same 3D printer is installed in Switzerland, at the University Hospital Basel. The only difference is that in Switzerland, it is mostly used during complex cranio-maxillofacial surgeries whereas French surgeons will use it for complex kidney tumor removal cases.

According to Jean-Christophe Bernhard, Urology Professor at Bordeaux University Hospital, the 3D printed model helps identify and avoid damage to the delicate nearby arteries and vessels which, in the case of complex or high-volume tumors, can result in a patient’s kidney being completely removed.

 “Having a 3D-printed model comprising the patient’s kidney tumor, main arteries and vessels – each in a different color – provides an accurate picture of what we will see during operations,” explains Prof. Bernhard. “The ability to visualize the specific location of a tumor in relation to these other elements, all in three dimensions, greatly facilitates our surgical planning and is not easily achievable from a 2D scan.”

Facilitating the communication with the patient

One area that is often given second-rate treatment is the communication with the patient. For a patient, it can be hard to perceive the operation process that surgeons will perform on his body with simple explanations. 3D printed models might simply remove any fear or concern that might raise prior to the operation.

Carole Ridel, a patient from Professor Bernhard, has recently witnessed that: “I was shown a 3D printed model of my kidney prior to my operation and instantly felt more reassured than I had been before surgeries I had undergone in the past,” she explains. “Seeing such a realistic representation allowed me to understand the process much better than an MRI scan. I noticed that the tumors were on the external wall of the kidney, rather than inside the organ itself, so I was comforted by realizing the situation wasn’t as bad as I had imagined.”

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