Patient-Specific 3D-Printed Low-Cost Models in Medical Education and Clinical Practice
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3D printing has been increasingly used for medical applications with studies reporting its value, ranging from medical education to pre-surgical planning and simulation, assisting doctor–patient communication or communication with clinicians, and the development of optimal computed tomography (CT) imaging protocols. This article presents our experience of utilising a 3D-printing facility to print a range of patient-specific low-cost models for medical applications. These models include personalized models in cardiovascular disease (from congenital heart disease to aortic aneurysm, aortic dissection and coronary artery disease) and tumours (lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and biliary disease) based on CT data. Furthermore, we designed and developed novel 3D-printed models, including a 3D-printed breast model for the simulation of breast cancer magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and calcified coronary plaques for the simulation of extensive calcifications in the coronary arteries. Most of these 3D-printed models were scanned with CT (except for the breast model which was scanned using MRI) for investigation of their educational and clinical value, with promising results achieved. The models were confirmed to be highly accurate in replicating both anatomy and pathology in different body regions with affordable costs. Our experience of producing low-cost and affordable 3D-printed models highlights the feasibility of utilizing 3D-printing technology in medical education and clinical practice.
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