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A Clear Mind

Patient-specific 3D-printed brain tumour model to aid surgery

13 May 2021

A Clear Mind

Brain surgery is, as you might expect, difficult. Brain scans – images that reveal the structures inside our skulls – have been used to pinpoint problems and plan surgery for decades, but flat, monochromatic images can only tell you so much. 3D printing technology allows a different type of visualisation, and a new study has examined the production process to test whether patient-specific models can be rapidly produced to better prepare surgeons. The study produced transparent models, with key anatomical features coloured (pictured, with a tumour shown red alongside other highlighted structures). The models’ soft, brain-like texture let neurosurgeons simulate procedures before taking to the real thing. Printing could be done in four days and proved valuable in ten simulated clinical situations, particularly to surgeons with less experience. This rapid production could be embedded into common practice for neurosurgery, to help make brain surgery a little less daunting.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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