If you’ve ever laid in an MRI or CT machine, you’ve probably stared at the GE logo on the equipment as there’s not much else to do while the images are taken. GE makes a lot of the imaging equipment used by radiologists and other healthcare providers so they make the perfect choice for Formlabs to partner with to advance their anatomical model 3D printing workflow.
3D printed patient-specific models can provide tangible value to surgeons and care specialists:
- Practitioner training – Surgeons can practice difficult procedures on models of their patients rather than generic models, improving the accuracy of their training.
- Surgical guides and preparation – Brackets and clamps can be printed to fit the patient’s contours and placed to allow surgical access or guide instruments exactly where they need to go.
- Patient communication – Medical procedures are ultimately about the patient’s wellbeing; if they don’t understand a procedure, their anxiety can have a negative effect on their recovery. A physical model can go a long way in helping them visualize the procedure and feel more comfortable.>
3D printed anatomical models aren’t new but the technology is still developing. Converting imaging data into 3D printable formats typically takes many hours of tedious model editing as the imaging data includes a lot that doesn’t need to be visualized. So GE Healthcare is employing their Advantage Workstation (AW) with advanced visualization tools to reduce the conversion process from hours to minutes. The partnership with Formlabs means that an exclusive bundle will be available to radiologists that includes the AW software and a Formlabs 3B 3D printer, along with on-site training.
Patients in the information age are playing a more critical role every year in their care, but simply presenting imaging data to patients as grayscale ‘slices’ through the body can create more confusion than answers. The virtual reality renderings clinical imagers see every day in radiology reading rooms on AW can now be exported via AW 3D Suite in seconds, imported into Formlabs PreForm, and printed right at the site of care to add the sense of touch to what members of the care team see. R. Scott Rader, General Manager of GE Healthcare Additive Solutions
In many arenas, the barrier to 3D printing adoption is cost. Here, it was the time associated with generating the 3D printable models. By addressing the specific hurdle, GE Healthcare and Formlabs have created an easy-to-navigate path for radiologists to adopt 3D printing. The next time you have a complex medical procedure (here’s to hoping you won’t), you may wind up holding a model of your insides while your surgeon points at it and says “We’ll be going in through here.”
Featured image courtesy of Formlabs.