2023/07/04 | Research | Surgical technologies

3D printed models improve patient education

Patient-specific 3D models lead to an improved understanding of anatomical structures and a planned intervention for neurosurgical aneurysm clippings, a recent study with the ARTORG Image Guided Therapy group and the Department of Neurosurgery at the Inselspital shows. Including 3D models to patient consultation could support informed patient consent, authors conclude.

Solid 3D printed brain model and intracranial aneurysm with a portion of the branching arteries and the carotid artery (A), 3D printed model where different anatomical parts exist out of different flexible materials (B). (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wneu.2023.04.070)

For the study, 38 patients about to undergo microsurgical treatment for cerebral aneurysms were presented with 3D prints of their skull, brain, and the affected artery. Neurosurgeons used the models derived from each patient´s medical imaging (CT scans) to explain the planned intervention, the patient´s vascular anatomy and the risks related to an aneurysm rupturing. In a following questionnaire, patients were asked how they perceived this method of information for different aspects.

92% of patients reported the 3D models helped them to understand the medical problem (inspite of more than half having prior knowledge of the pathology). For 89% of the patients, the aneurysm's relationship to the parent artery and the treatment process were clearer. 60% of the patients considered the model to be useful in better understanding the risks associated with leaving the aneurysm untreated.