Enhancing Clinical Preparedness
Stratasys analyzed 31 peer-reviewed publications on 3D printing in medical education. This detailed white paper examines the impact of the technology on the training experience.
Get the White Paper
3D printed patient-specific models for surgical planning.
Ear, nose and throat simulation model in three parts.
The simulation section is installed in a reusable 3D printed
For the Centre for Biomedical and Technology Integration (CBMTI), a commercial spinoff of the University of Malaya in Malaysia,
3D printing is vital to innovation. CBMTI uses PolyJet Technology to deliver a range of services including custom medical
implants, prototypes for new devices and patient-specific models for surgical planning. But where CBMTI truly stands out is in
creating clinically impactful, sophisticated training simulators.
At CBMTI’s inception, the primary tools for training neuorsurgeons were mentoring
on live human cases, cadaveric dissection and computer simulations. In a
groundbreaking step to enhance training, the center adopted 3D printing. Its first
3D printer made spatially accurate models in a single material, but did not mimic
human pathology without a costly, time-consuming post process. This changed
when they acquired PolyJet 3D Printing technology.
“Once we got the Stratasys multi-material printer, we were able to print models
that could, for instance, mimic the texture of the nose, the linings, and the harder
tissue at the back of the nose. We found this very useful, especially in teaching
trainees how to handle different materials,” said Vicknes Waran, MD, director
Better Prepared With Realistic Patient-Specific Models
CBMTI now 3D prints detailed multi-material models that mimic real anatomy, even
down to a specific patient’s tumor. With access to advanced multi-material 3D
printing, CBMTI can fabricate models that feature different textures and densities
over surfaces and throughout interiors, just as human body parts do.
“The [Stratasys] J750 allows us to create models with both texture and color
variations that mimic actual tissue handling and appearance better for these
complex models,” said Dr. Waran. “With the Connex, we can simulate realistic
layers of human tissue like skin, bone, dura, brain and tumors within the printed
model for surgical simulations.”
CBMTI develops its training courses in partnership with leaders in various fields.
Together, they identify a patient with the anatomy and pathology they wish to train
physicians to treat. CBMTI engineers then convert the patient’s CT and MRI scans
into digital design files, and select materials that best match the physical, tactile
and color characteristics of the target anatomy. CBMTI has even found ways to
use support material, typically removed from the final model, to enhance
“We have also incorporated features such as fluid dynamics so we can simulate
endoscopic neurosurgical procedures,” said Yuwaraj Kumar Balakrishnan, CBMTI
chief operations officer. “We find surgeons who train on these models are much
better prepared in terms of dealing with complex surgeries, simply because they
are able to train and retrain on the models until they perfect the procedure.”
Industry Leaders in Medical Models
A recent program was developed to train surgeons on ear, nose and throat
surgeries in collaboration with Professor Prepageran Narayanan from the
University of Malaysia.
“When you use a 3D model with a tumor or lesion, it is very important to have
color. Only if you see the color separation do you know that you’re in the right
plane,” said Narayanan. “Now you can use a model based on a patient’s pathology
to simulate the entire surgery before the surgery itself.”
Interest has significantly increased since CBMTI invested in 3D printing and the
company has increased production capacity by 40 percent with its 3D printers. A
team of 20 medical clinicians, rapid-prototyping engineers, computer programmers
and electrical engineers work together on their main 3D printing lines of business:
creating prototypes for university research, developing custom titanium implants
and manufacturing custom simulators for surgical training.
“Researchers’ interest in our models has increased a hundredfold since we began
using these printers,” said Balakrishnan. “Stratasys printers are the ideal platform
for innovation. We have gone from being only able to mold titanium plates for
cranial implants to being able to create biomodels with pathology from actual
patient imaging data.”