Precision is key when it comes to ailments of the brain such as a tumor or blocked artery. Determining the size, shape and severity of these issues can be just as challenging when trying to diagnose and treat them too. Thankfully, 3D printing is providing aide to doctors and surgeons by giving them the ability to 3D print extremely accurate replicas of these growths and damages. This method was suggested by Dr. Darin Okuda who published his successes of diagnosing and understanding brain injuries in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis using 3D printing.
Okuda and his team performed this by analyzing MRI scans of the MS patients’ brains and then 3D printing exact models of the injuries that were detected.
“What you see on plain 2-dimensional views does not give one a clear understanding as to the true shape of the lesion itself,” Okuda
told me. “By studying lesions in 3D, we are looking at these findings in an entirely different way, assessing their shape and surface characteristics.”
Okuda’s team was able to identify multiple features of MS brain injuries, such as asymmetry and complex surface structures, that distinguish them from the other types of brain injuries. These lesions were very difficult to identify through the MRI scans, but by 3D printing these scans, doctors were able to see and observe them much more easily.
“Prior to the release of our work, we were describing multiple sclerosis lesions incorrectly,” said Okuda. “Lesions from MS are still described as being ‘ovoid’ in shape and ‘well circumscribed’ in character. Based on our 3D work, we know that this is not the case. We were amazed at the complexity of MS lesions and would argue that conventional terms previously used in our field may not be accurate after a review in physical 3D form.”