3D Printer Helping Medical Operations in Japan

Jul 1, 2011
Takuya Otani, Nikkei Electronics & Digital Health Online
A biological model (liver) formed by mixing two types of materials
A biological model (liver) formed by mixing two types of materials
[Click to enlarge image]
Video of an actual operation. The medical staff is discussing the procedure while seeing a biological model.
Video of an actual operation. The medical staff is discussing the procedure while seeing a biological model.
[Click to enlarge image]
The "Objet260 Connex" 3D printer
The "Objet260 Connex" 3D printer
[Click to enlarge image]

Kobe University Hospital brought biological models formed by a three-dimensional printer to actual medical operation sites and succeeded in several operations.

The hospital announced the achievements at Medtec Japan 2011, which took place from June 29 to 30, 2011, in Yokohama City, Japan. It used biological models formed by a 3D printer that can form an object by mixing two types of materials. It has succeeded in medical operations by using such biological models for the first time in the world, said Maki Sugimoto, a specially appointed instructor at Kobe University Hospital, Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine.

The hospital used the "Objet260 Connex," Objet Geometries Ltd's new 3D printer, which was just exhibited at the 22th Design Engineering & Manufacturing Solutions Expo at the end of June 2011 in Tokyo (See related article).

The 3D printer can form biological models by mixing two types of materials. So, by using a transparent material, it is possible to form models that enable to see bones and cancers from the outside. Several biological models were exhibited at the booth of Fasotec Co Ltd, which is Objet Geometries' agency.

Kobe University Hospital showed video of actual operations including those related to liver cancers and deformations at the booth.

The use of such biological models drastically improves the accuracy of operation, Sugimoto said. For example, it becomes possible to simulate a procedure before actually treating an organ.

"We can discuss with the staff to decide the optimal procedure by comparing a biological model and an organ during operations," Sugimoto said.

Furthermore, the hospital expects that biological models formed by the printer will help educate young doctors.