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Updated: Alder Hey Surgeons Use 3D Printed Model In Theatre

3DmodelinsurgerySurgeons at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital have become one of the first children’s hospitals in the UK to use a 3D printed model as a surgical reference during an operation.

Surgeons from Alder Hey’s specialist orthopaedic spinal team in Liverpool used a 3D printed model of a spine taken from a CT scan of an eight year old patient from Wales. The model, which was provided by 3D LifePrints and Materialise, was sterilised and taken into theatre where it was used to guide surgeons during a procedure to correct a complex congenital spinal problem called kyphoscoliosis.

The operation was performed by Alder Hey surgeons, Jai Trivedi, Neil Davidson and Colin Bruce.

Before surgery, the CT scan images were converted into a 3D printable format which allowed a life size replica of the patient’s spine to be 3D printed. The model was printed in a plastic that could be sterilised and taken into the operating theatre. This meant that surgeons could continue to refer to the model throughout the procedure.

This is the first time at Alder Hey that a 3D printed model has been brought into an operating theatre for use as a reference tool.

Senior surgeon Jai Trivedi said: “There is no doubt the model made this complex procedure operation much safer as it allowed for accurate pre-operative planning and implementation at surgery. Sterile models that can be held during an operation should prove helpful for other surgeons.”

COO Henry Pinchbeck of 3D LifePrints said:  “We are delighted to be working with the talented surgical teams at Alder Hey who are leading the way in terms of adoption of innovative practises such as 3D printing. Bespoke 3D printed anatomical models are ideal for complex operations such as this one, where they can improve outcomes and save time in theatre. From our embedded 3D printing hub at Alder Hey we are able to supply 3D printing services to hospitals and universities across the region.

Alder Hey’s innovative orthopaedic, cardiac, craniofacial and radiology teams already work closely with 3D LifePrints by using 3D printing technology to plan complex operations, improve communication between doctors and patients and facilitate medical learning.

In March 2016, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and the University of Liverpool officially opened the first phase of a dedicated research, education and innovation centre adjacent to Alder Hey’s new state-of the art children’s hospital. Unusually for an NHS campus, ‘Alder Hey in the Park’ houses an innovation hub with a specific focus on technology. The Alder Hey innovation service aims to harness technology that is not yet widely used in the healthcare context (such as 3D printing and bio-sensors) to improve health outcomes, particularly in surgery and critical care. The team is working with a number of external partners on the use of digital technology to distract young patients when undergoing unpleasant procedures and is also examining how to better utilise the ‘big data’ generated within hospital systems to improve how the hospital is run and how patients experience it.

Please note: This article was originally published on 10th March and stated this was the first time a sterilised 3D printed model had been used in theatre during an NHS operation. We now understand this to be inaccurate and have updated this piece.

Your comments

  • An amazing story! What a wonderful team doing life changing work !

  • Whilst it’s good to see the use of additive manufacturing / 3d printing becoming more routine in the NHS, to claim this as a first is wildly incorrect.

    Morriston Hospital have been sterilising suitable models and using them as in-theatre references for at least 17 years – by working with PDR at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Many other hospital units have worked with PDR, with other organisations, or on their own to do this for many years – perhaps for even longer than mentioned.

    Congratulations on using technology for good effect, however.

  • Alder Hey Hospital are very far from being in even the first 100 hospitals to use a 3D printed model in surgery. We at Morriston Hospital in Swansea in Wales have been using this technology for more than 12 years in this way and even more with 3D printed implants which have been used, published extensively in the scientific literature and reported on telepvision and radio worldwide including in 2014 the BBC TV who reported the case of Stephen Power whose midface and orbital traumatised fractures were reconstructed using 3D printing at every stage of planning and then 3D printed implants used to reconstruct his face. Our collaboration on this work dates back to before 2006 when we at the hospital signed an agreement with the design engineers at PDR, Cardiff Metropolitan Univ, and we now rotuinely do this work with our Maxillofacial, Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery colleagues.

  • Many congratulations on embracing this technology. I am sure that it will bring huge benefits for your patients. We have been using this technology for nearly 20 years and our work is presented on and Linked In. This technology was made for complex cases such as kyphoscoliosis. It also in a game changer in bone cancer. Colour Stereomodels (in Stereocol) can be used for 3D Tumour Mapping and this technology is presented on the website.

    Ninian Peckitt

    Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon / Facial Plastic Surgeon Al Zahra Hospital Dubai.

    Hon. Adjunct Associate Professor in Engineering Assisted Surgery, School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Massey University, New Zealand

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