Removing a tumor from an organ can be a challenge when it’s located in a hard to reach spot surrounded by fragile tissue, such as in the retroperitoneal space. Surgeons typically review CT scans prior to the operation, planning what approach they’ll take in their minds. Now researchers at Kobe University in Japan are offering surgeons 3D-printed recreations of their patients’ own kidneys, including the tumor and surrounding vasculature, to analyze and practice on.
The team uses pre-op CT scans to create 3D models of the kidneys, which are then transferred to the printer. The kidney is then printed out of two different materials so that the tumor and vasculature stand out from the rest of the organ. This allows the surgeons to initially see the tumor and vessels that will be much harder to spot during actual surgery.