07.06.2017 change 07.06.2017

Innovative Polish 3D liver printing will make surgery easier

Jagiellonian University student of medicine Jan Witowski has developed an innovative, probably world\'s cheapest method of printing 3D liver models. Printed models are already helping to perform surgery on individual patients.

Surgical procedures using printed 3D liver models are rare. The cost is the primary obstacle. The student from Kraków hopes that his method will allow to popularise printed 3D liver models that will serve medicine and help during surgery.

3D models of organs, which facilitate diagnosis and surgery, are increasingly used in medicine. However, liver models are rare. "The liver is an anatomically complex organ and it is also costly to print, our model costs 400-500 PLN, while the other, foreign models - several thousand zlotys"- said Jan Witowski.

Young scientist as one of the few in the world and the only in Poland, has developed a method of printing 3D liver models; his solution is probably the cheapest in the world.

The low production cost according to the Polish design results primarily from the possibility to print on an regular 3D printer. Foreign models are so designed that they require a specialized, expensive machine to print them.

Expensive printers use mainly resins (transparent, coloured, flexible) for printing - thanks to that the entire models come out of the printer. According to the Witowski\'s project, plastic parts of the model (counterparts of the interior of the liver) are printed separately and later covered with special silicone (which takes the shape of the liver).

The Polish scientist has found a material that is transparent (the liver model must be transparent so that doctors can see the internal structure of the organ) and can replace the transparent resin in expensive printers. "The silicone we have selected works great, we forget about expensive machines and use ordinary printers that you can literally put on your desk" - explained the young designer.

"Our solution is as good as the many times more expensive solutions, proposed abroad" - he assured.

So far, the Witowski\'s model is used in the University Hospital in Kraków, but interest in this design is growing among Polish and foreign surgeons. Specialist foreign press have already written about the invention.

The 3D liver model accurately reproduces the structure of a diseased organ, allowing physicians, more accurately than computerized tomography, to locate affected tissues, including tumours whose location can be difficult to determine using standard imaging methods.

"We are very enthusiastic about such models, because they allows us to preoperatively explain some of the anatomical complexities that might surprise us during surgery. With such prints we know what the organ structure is, which facilitates the planning and the course of surgery" - said the Kraków University Hospital surgeon, Michał Pędziwiatr, Ph.D.

He explained that the main indication for liver surgery is the metastasis of other cancers (mainly colorectal cancer) to this organ. The doctor added that there were only few centres in Poland that dealt with liver surgery and therefore "it seems that the number of patients who require surgery is greater than the number of centres that can perform these operations".

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland, Beata Kołodziej

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