How 3D printing enabled a life-saving surgery on a complex spinal sarcoma
Pre-operative planning is crucial to delivering successful surgery, thereby delivering optimum patient outcomes. The arrival of 3D printed anatomical models has revolutionized how surgeons obtain the critical insights that are needed before performing complex surgical procedures, leading to better outcomes for patients. With the help of Formlabs and Axial 3D, Mr. Alistair Irwin was able to successfully remove a Complex Spinal Sarcoma from a young patient.
For over five years, Irwin has been a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, practicing at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle Upon Tyne, one of just four specialist spinal sarcoma centres in England. Irwin undertakes all aspects of adult spinal surgery including minimally invasive techniques, with a specialist interest in spinal tumors, including spinal sarcomas shown in the case below.
How the Team Assesses Tumors
Why the Surgical Team Turned to 3D Printing
Being able to rely on Axial3D and Formlabs for these details and accurate models gave the surgical team a much clearer picture of the anatomy and enabled them to eliminate the guesswork well ahead of the resection.
The Complex Spinal Sarcoma model became a critical tool in helping the team understand and plan exactly which ribs were intersecting with the tumor and how closely the team needed to make cuts on the ribs or the spine. Being able to practice on the model beforehand gave the team a great level of insightful detail on patient anatomy, and the confidence to carry out the procedure.
“It's easy to use, efficient, and quick. The models Axial3D produces are very good, accurate and easy to use. The service is fairly seamless and efficient compared to other types of new where it can be an onerous, complicated, lengthy process. The model produced in this case was very intuitive, very interactive and seamless which meant we could get things turned around quickly. I've been very impressed with how Axial3D can rapidly turn around complex requests,” Irwin said.
The outcomes for the patient have been incredibly positive. While she had to spend a few weeks in hospital after the procedure, she was able to walk out with no signs of weakness or paralysis. Her blood loss during the operation was at normal levels.
The greatest outcome of the model was the accurate tumor resection (confirmed by a pathology sample). After clear margins were determined and the young girl’s vitals were stable, she was able to return home with her family. With the help of the 3D printed model, she was discharged from the cancer ward with the comfort that the team had been able to resect the entirety of the tumor.
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