Case Studies Gunshot trauma model

3D printed cervical spine gunshot trauma model presents unparalleled insights over patient CT images

Case Study
  • Neurosurgery

A real use-case of how a 3D printed model adds value within clinical discussions, providing incredible insight over traditional imaging alone. This 3D printed cervical spine gunshot trauma model was produced and shipped in under 48 hours.

Model details

The main issue facing the creation of this 3D printed cervical spine gunshot trauma model was the number of small fragments floating next to the spine. These fragments needed to be connected to the model in a way that was secure but did not overwhelm the fragments. The model was segmented, printed and shipped within 48 hours.


The model was created from a single CT scan. As the bullet was still in the patient's neck, close to the area of interest. The main challenges were to accurately segment the model while reducing noise from the bullet fragments.

As you can see from the CT image above, the noise is prevalent and makes it difficult to see the problem at hand.


The bullet passed through C4 and C5 before getting lodged in the patient's neck.

The patient's main problem on arrival was neurogenic shock (from the C4/5 cord injury), causing hypotension and making resuscitation extremely tricky. There was also an expanding neck hematoma from the gunshot threatening his airway. He, therefore, was intubated and required neck dissection to release the hematoma.


The bullet was removed from the patient's neck and screws were added to reinforce the fractured vertebrae. Particular care was given to the carotid and vertebral arteries, as one of these had already sustained major trauma and injury and would cause major blood-loss to the brain.

“Having access to a patient’s full-scale anatomical model has allowed surgeons to more accurately diagnose and determine treatment for that patient and in some cases completely change the course of treatment with the additional information given from the prints.” Specialists can inspect a full scale model of the anatomy in three dimensions, giving them unprecedented insight into a patient’s needs. It’s essential that these models are highly accurate, so Axial3D produces their models with in-house 3D printing to capture each scan's intricate details."

- Daniel Crawford, Founder of Axial3D

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