Medical Research at RPC
Medical Applications of Rapid Prototyping at MSOE
Pre-surgical Planning Models
There are several advantages to using RP in surgery. Using computer tomography (CT) scans, models can be built of a patient=s bones. The models can be used to practice complex procedures, greatly reducing the time in the operating room. Not only can they be used to practice surgeries, but to aid in visualization. Surgeons and their teams will be able to see the actual location, size and shape of the problem area. This will aid in communication between the surgical team, and the physician and patient. In the case of an extremely long operations, the surgical team can use the physical models to plan the surgery so that the desired outcome is more ensured. Surgeons can view the expected outcome and decisions can be made for the patient=s short and long term treatment. Biomodeling allows surgeons or surgical teams to prepare for non-traditional techniques and/or surgical procedures. This can be especially beneficial in surgeries where there are anatomical abnormalities involved.
Mechanical Bone Replicas
Rapid prototyping can be used to replicate mechanical characteristics and material variations in bone. A composite structure built with a lattice structure of SLA can create two distinct regions with properties similar to cortical and trabecular bone. Normal, pathological, and surgically altered anatomical bone can be illustrated. Non-homogenous variations within a region can also be modeled. Mechanically correct bone replicas can be used to test bone strength under given conditions. Additionally, an event could be recreated and the fractures, stresses, and other related changes on the bone can be observed or measured.
Teaching Aids and Simulators
RP can be used to make models of a given part of the body, a defect or other medical condition. These models can be molded and used by researchers or in classrooms. Better illustration of anatomy could be achieved with these models and would allow viewing of internal structure. Models could be distributed in kits to schools and museums for educational and display purposes. These models can be used by medical students to teach and practice surgical procedures without causing discomfort to an actual patient.
The other potential for these RP models is the use in teaching simulators. The models would give accurate representations of human anatomy. Simulators could provide a model of the ribs and sternum for proper location of heart sound or placement of ECG leads. Models of the trachea and esophagus could be used in a teaching simulator for the placement of tubes, such as a feeding tube or placing a vent. These simulator could be used in training of nurses and doctors or any other medical related field. By incorporating RP technology in training simulators, more accurate representation of the actual task can be obtained.