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CHU de Brest uses 3D printing for patient-specific anatomic models

After recently installing Stratasys' J5 MediJet multi-material, multi-color 3D printer

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Stratasys’ J5 MediJet 3D printer’s multi-material, multi-color capabilities are enabling surgeons at the University Hospital of Brest (CHU de Brest), in France, to produce realistic anatomic models to plan complex surgical procedures – in turn improving planning, training, and patient outcomes.

CHU de Brest is witnessing substantial improvements in pre-surgical planning procedures following the implementation of a new 3D printer by Cylaos, Stratasys’ reseller partner. The installation gives surgeons highly accurate and detailed 360-degree patient-specific anatomic models before the actual operation – with the potential to improve surgical risks and reduce operation time.

According to Samuel Guigo, radiology and 3D printing technician at the CHU, the realistic sophistication of the 3D printed models produced with the all-in-one J5 MediJet – compared to previous single-material, single-color options – is transformational and sets a new standard for medical modeling.

“The accuracy we now enjoy with the J5 3D printed models means our surgeons are far better equipped and prepared before going into theater, which significantly and quantifiably reduces surgical-related risks through improved safety,” said Samuel Guigo. “When preparing a vascular surgery, for example, millimetric precision is mandatory. With the J5 MediJet, not only can we achieve this, but we have the flexibility to re-print the models to iterate and achieve optimal results, reproducing them with complete consistency, as required. We were simply unable to do this previously.”

CHU de Brest uses 3D printing for patient-specific anatomic models after installing Stratasys' J5 MediJet 3D printer. According to Samuel Guigo, the use of Stratasys’ 3D printing technology, underscored by the ElasticoTM photopolymer material, is a crucial factor contributing to the quality of the anatomical models the hospital can produce. “We can produce models on the MediJet with far greater realism than our other 3D printing technologies allow. With the Elastico material, for example, the haptic feeling and surface smoothness replicate the patient’s soft arteries much more closely,” he said.

The shortcomings in the hospital’s existing alternative technologies also meant that the production of some models had to previously be outsourced to external providers, and the acquisition of the J5 MediJet provided an alternative solution to this.

Improving training and patient care

Beyond pre-surgical preparation, the use of patient-specific 3D printed medical models for on-demand training can improve patient outcomes by reducing complications and decreasing overall recovery time and length of hospital stay. With a highly accurate patient-specific 3D printed medical model, surgeons can also better explain specific pathologies and procedures to patients before surgery – an aspect of the procedure that has proven to improve a patient’s therapeutic understanding and satisfaction.

“The MediJet means that we’re winning in every area”, said Samuel Guigo. “We have greater management of growth requirements and have addressed quality issues, while also improving processes and educational practices.”

The CHU de Brest’s installation of Stratasys’ J5 MediJet was achieved thanks to support from the hospital’s Innoveo Endowment Fund, which is designed to support projects that improve the care, quality of life, and comfort of patients. Since its installation, the use of the J5 MediJet has rapidly expanded to different hospital departments, including Interventional neuroradiology, orthopedic surgery, vascular surgery, neurosurgery, as well as to biomedical services.

As part of the government’s strategy for accelerating digital health, W.INN – the innovation center established by the CHU de Brest in 2021 – was recently designated as a Third-Party Experimentation Centre. As such, the CHU is further positioned as a key player in medical innovation at the local, regional, and national level.

The CHU’s next aim is reportedly to set up a dedicated 3D printing arm that will address the needs of the hospital’s departments, research team, and training. With the hospital focused on championing the technology’s general use within the medical sector, there is also a vision for producing 3D printed anatomical models for other hospitals, as well as for biomedical engineering schools.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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