Patient-specific three-dimensional printed pulmonary artery model: A preliminary study
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Background and Objectives: Three-dimensional (3D) printing has potential value in medical applications with increasing reports in the diagnostic assessment of cardiovascular diseases. The use of 3D printing in replicating pulmonary artery anatomy and diagnosing pulmonary embolism is very limited. The purpose of this study was to develop a 3D printed pulmonary artery model and test different computed tomography (CT) scanning protocols for determination of an optimal protocol with acceptable image quality but low radiation dose. Materials and Methods: A patient-specific 3D printed pulmonary artery model was created based on contrast-enhanced CT images in a patient with suspected pulmonary embolism. Different CT pulmonary angiography protocols consisting of 80, 100, and 120 kVp, pitch 0.7, 0.9, and 1.2 with 1 mm slice thickness, and 0.6 mm reconstruction interval were tested on the phantom. Quantitative assessment of image quality in terms of signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) was measured in the images acquired with different protocols. Measurements in pulmonary artery diameters were conducted and compared between pre- and post-3D printed images and 3D printed model. Results: The 3D printed model was found to replicate normal pulmonary artery with high accuracy. The mean difference in diameter measurements was <0.8 mm (<0.5% deviation in diameter). There was no significant difference in SNR measured between these CT protocols (P = 0.96–0.99). Radiation dose was reduced by 55% and 75% when lowering kVp from 120 to 100 and 80 kVp, without affecting image quality. Conclusions: It is feasible to produce a 3D printed pulmonary artery model with high accuracy in replicating normal anatomy. Different CT scanning protocols are successfully tested on the model with 80 kVp and pitch 0.9 being the optimal one with resultant diagnostic images but at much lower radiation dose
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