|Mr Ram Nataraja|
The novel project, led by Monash Children’s Hospital consultant paediatric and neonatal surgeon Mr Ram Nataraja, who is also Director of Surgical Simulation and a senior lecturer at Monash University, was published recently in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.
3D printing is increasingly being used in medicine to assist surgeons in pre-operative planning.
“3D printing of bespoke patient replicas has the potential to revolutionise complex surgical procedures by allowing 3D visualisation of unique anatomical variants or pathology, both before and during surgery,” Mr Nataraja said.
“This project also demonstrates the educational value of 3D printing models to undergraduate medical students, surgical trainees and patients.”
It is well established that the duration and therefore cost of surgical cases are increased by the participation of surgical trainees, or residents.
“Longer operative times and low operator experience are linked to increased complications, therefore any means to improve this will save health care dollars and also improve patient outcomes,” Mr Nataraja said.
Mr Nataraja’s team constructed a 3D model of the patient’s choledochal cyst, a rare congenital enlargement of the bile ducts.
“Our bespoke model of the patient’s choledochal malformation was used prior to surgery for visualisation, preoperative planning, education and parental counselling.”
Mr Nataraja said the child had a straight forward uncomplicated post-operative recovery with no operative complications and has remained well for the last four months.
“In the future we hope to develop the capacity to print 3D images of bespoke patient pathology on site, and integrate it into the routine management of rare or complicated diseases with a view to improve outcomes and understanding for patients and their parents as well as education of trainees and students,” he said.
“This case also highlights the excellent talent at Monash University, especially Professor Paul McMenamin who co-supervised this project.”