Using 3D modeling to communicate difficult decisions to patients
Weighing up risks in deciding whether or not to proceed with a complex procedure is no easy task for any surgeon, but having to communicate to a patient the reasons why a procedure cannot go ahead is a challenge that would be the envy of few.
In this case, the patient presented with a dislocated rib that was putting intense pressure on his spinal cord. The consultant created a surgical plan using the patient’s 2D medical scans, however he wanted to carry out a more complete evaluation of the risks before proceeding. To support this evaluation, he ordered a full-size 3D model from Axial3D.
With the new insight that the model provided, the surgeon had a much clearer understanding of the full risks and complexities of the surgery and ultimately concluded that the risks far outweighed the benefits for the patient, meaning the procedure should not go ahead.
Not only did this model provide the surgeon with the ultimate insight that led to the balance of benefit-risk of the surgery moving, but it was also an incredibly useful visual aid in helping him to communicate the high risk of paralysis to his patient if the procedure were to go ahead. While we can feel terrible for the patient on hearing that the procedure should not go ahead, at the same time, this is in the knowledge that the surgeon had used the best information available and therefore his recommendation was in the very best interest of the patient.