3D modelling set to transform surgical planning

Above the metal hip joint nestled in this 3D-printed pelvis is a "pseudotumour" – a benign growth that can be painful and sometimes requires surgery. This model shows clearly how the tumour can create pressure on major blood vessels. (Image: Cavendish Imaging)

Above the metal hip joint nestled in this 3D-printed pelvis is a "pseudotumour" – a benign growth that can be painful and sometimes requires surgery. This model shows clearly how the tumour can create pressure on major blood vessels. (Image: Cavendish Imaging)

Surgeons can now see and handle the body parts they will be repairing in the operating theatre before making a single cut, thanks to 3D-printed models. 

The patient in the case shown here required revision surgery of her metal-on-metal hip implant. She had developed a pseudotumour, secondary to metal debris, extending into her pelvis and compressing important structures such as her blood vessels, clearly seen in this 3D printed model (red vessels overlying a brown tumour). 

The model was designed using CT and MRI scans, and helped to make for a successful operation where the pseudotumour was removed without damage to her blood vessels. The use of 3D printed models in medicine looks set to be the future of complex surgery and has been featured in New Scientist.