At MIT and Boston Children’s Hospital, researchers worked out a system allowing clinicians to take an MRI scan of patients’ hearts and create 3D printed models of the organs within hours. The model hearts can then be used to plan surgeries and practice different approaches before working on the actual patients. The next step is to actually test the clinical value of these models, which will involve seven Boston Children’s cardiac surgeons applying them to their practice.
The technology relies on new approaches for processing MRI scans and improving the imaging resolution that is produced so that high quality models can be produced. In particular, the identification of the 3D boundaries of various tissues has been worked out to result in models that are more accurate than ever before.
The new system will be presented next month at the International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention in Munich, Germany.
More about the upcoming study of the system according to MIT:
The clinical study in the fall will involve MRIs from 10 patients who have already received treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital. Each of seven surgeons will be given data on all 10 patients — some, probably, more than once. That data will include the raw MRI scans and, on a randomized basis, either a physical model or a computerized 3-D model, based, again at random, on either human segmentations or algorithmic segmentations.
Using that data, the surgeons will draw up surgical plans, which will be compared with documentation of the interventions that were performed on each of the patients. The hope is that the study will shed light on whether 3-D-printed physical models can actually improve surgical outcomes.