The use of 3D printing in conjunction with medical imaging tests has revolutionized the way healthcare professionals diagnose and treat patients. By combining the power of 3D printing with the detailed information provided by medical imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), healthcare professionals are able to create highly accurate anatomical models that can be used to plan surgeries, diagnose conditions, and even create replicas of major organs. At Tampa General Hospital, for example, five medical helicopters transport seriously injured or ill patients from 23 surrounding counties to receive the advanced care they need. In collaboration with the Department of Radiology of the Morsani School of Medicine at USF Health, Tampa General has used 3D printing to plan aortic valve replacements, traumatic surgeries, cancer surgeries and other reconstructions, in addition to creating replicas of major organs.
The first step in creating these models is to design virtual models of the desired object. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance scanners are most commonly used to produce these high-information volumetric image datasets, but it is also possible to use other modalities. After assembly, the phantom is filled with a suitable test solution, liquid, or nuclear tracer, according to the requirements of the imaging mode. At Sawai Man Singh Hospital (Jaipur, India), 22 surgeries have been based on advanced 3D printing technology to perform precision medical interventions.
A novel modular insert design was used to be able to select and customize the quality control components of the images based on the quality control tests indicated for the different imaging modalities (computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and PET). The combination of 3D printing, the integration of multiple images and augmented reality can greatly improve data visualization during diagnosis, treatment planning and cardiology surgical procedures. Testing image quality for desktop magnetic resonance imaging systems with permanent magnets using specially designed ghosts can also help ensure that these models are as accurate as possible. The use of computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other forms of medical imaging have clearly allowed health professionals to diagnose patients' conditions and, therefore, to treat them more effectively.
The future should consist of developing advanced practice or expanding the role of radiographers who use this technology and in exploring in depth how it can transform the future of medical imaging.