3D Model Created in ScanIP Used Towards Kidney Operation

Posted on 15 January 2015 by Jessica James

3D printing technology is becoming more common in the medical industry, whereby scans (such as MRI and CT) can be converted into physical models for use as a research aid. Entrepreneur John Cousins (Managing Director of isodo3D) recently took advantage of an opportunity to demonstrate the potential of these models for a kidney stone removal operation, with Simpleware software playing an important role in the process.

Cousins collapsed and was taken to hospital last year with acute pain, which resulted in his appendix being removed. However, a CT scan also revealed a ‘stag-head’ kidney stone that needed to be operated on. This gave Cousins the idea to use the scan to create a 3D printed model of his own kidney from the 2D image slices, which could assist in the planning of the operation to remove the stone.

3D printed model of the kidney with a 'stag head' kidney stone (Source: isodo3D)

Simpleware ScanIP was chosen as the solution for reconstructing the original scan, and was used to segment the kidney and stone using image processing techniques. The model was exported as an STL file from the software and 3D printed, before being sliced in half to show the stone’s location. Southampton General Hospital surgeon Bhaskar Somani used the printed model as an additional reference during the successful surgery to remove the kidney stone.

Visualisation of the kidney stones in Simpleware ScanIP

For Cousins, 3D models have many benefits for surgeons: "At the moment they look at a 2D screen. If we can give them a physical model ultimately they could reduce the time it takes for the operation, and if you do that you can reduce infection rates." Mr Bhaskar also noted that having the 3D kidney model was useful as "it gives us a rough estimation of where to come from and to be more precise" during an operation. The planning of future surgeries can be helped by using this approach, with advances in imaging and 3D printing making it easier to quickly and accurately create models.

John Cousins with the 3D printed model of his kidney (Source: isodo3D)