Boston Children's Hospital preps surgeons with custom 3D-printed models

Undoubtedly, 3D printing has taken root in a variety of disciplines, and medicine is no stranger to leveraging its tool kit. At Boston Children's Hospital, surgeons are using printed models to prep for the operating room. "With 3D printing, we're taking a step that allows experienced doctors to simulate the specific anatomy of their patients and allows the best of the best to become even better," says Peter Weinstock, MD, PhD. Dr. Weinstock is working on an in-house service that's capable of constructing the models in short order. Using scans from the hospital's radiology department and a 3D printer capable of super high-resolution output (16 microns, to be exact), the models allow doctors to examine details of a baby's skull or brain. What's more, the machine can use multiple materials to sculpt the final result, simulating the unique facets of bone, skin and blood vessels individually. For surgeons-in-training, the custom-made prints can illustrate the details of a medical condition rather than an average look.