Investigating accuracy of 3D printed liver models with computed tomography
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Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of three-dimensional (3D) printed liver models developed by a cost-effective approach for establishing validity of using these models in a clinical setting. Methods: Fifteen patients undergoing laparoscopic liver resection in a single surgical department were included. Patient-specific, 1-1 scale 3D printed liver models including the liver, tumor, and vasculature were created from contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) images using a cost-effective approach. The 3D models were subsequently CT scanned, 3D image post-processing was performed, and these 3D computer models (MCT) were compared to the original 3D models created from the original patient images (PCT). 3D computer models of each type were co-registered using a point set registration method. 3D volume measurements of the liver and lesions were calculated and compared for each set. In addition, Hausdorff distances were calculated and surface quality was compared by generated heatmaps. Results: The median liver volume in MCT was 1,281.84 [interquartile range (IQR) =296.86] cm3, and 1,448.03 (IQR =413.23) cm3 in PCT. Analysis of differences between surfaces showed that the median value of mean Hausdorff distances for liver parenchyma was 1.92 mm. Bland-Altman plots revealed no significant bias in liver volume and diameters of hepatic veins and tumor location. Median errors of all measured vessel diameters were smaller than CT slice height. There was a slight trend towards undersizing anatomical structures, although those errors are most likely due to source imaging. Conclusions: We have confirmed the accuracy of 3D printed liver models created by using the low-cost method. 3D models are useful tools for pre-operative planning and intra-operative guidance. Future research in this field should continue to move towards clinical trials for assessment of the impact of these models on pre-surgical planning decisions and perioperative outcomes.
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