CAD/BIM Tips & Tricks
Futuristic Healthcare Thanks to CAD
Star Trek Sick Bay Is Almost Here
4 April 2023
If you’d suggested — just 30 years ago — that the things mentioned in this article would one day be a reality, you’d probably have been diagnosed as delusional. But you’d have been right and the diagnosis would have been wrong.
The increased adoption of 3D CAD in the healthcare industry is having truly profound effects. New CAD-based techniques are often life-changing — even life-saving — for patients, and some of the ongoing CAD-enabled research is downright futuristic.
The increased CAD usage is largely thanks to the ability to create 3D models from medical images, resulting in improved procedures and outcomes for patients. This is expected to be the fastest-growing sector of 3D CAD adoption. Join us as we look at some truly inspirational — bordering on miraculous — examples that we certainly found fascinating.
3D Printing Changes Diagnosis
A child in Northern Ireland had two bone injuries to his forearm. He couldn’t rotate his arm more than 50% and was suffering from escalating pain. CT scans and X-ray images revealed bone deformities, which would require an osteotomy — an invasive four-hour surgery during which the surgeon reshapes the bones to improve the rotation.
However, with admirable foresight, the surgeon elected to print a 3D model of the assumed injury, which completely changed the diagnosis. From the 3D model, medical staff were able to establish that the problem lay not in the deformed bones, but that it was the tight structures between the bones that were responsible for limiting the child’s ability to rotate his arm and causing the pain.
A 3D model of the assumed injury completely changed the diagnosis.
Instead of a four-hour surgery, the procedure was completed in less than 30 minutes. The young patient regained 90% of his range of motion within four weeks. The recovery time, postoperative pain and scarring were all considerably decreased.
The value of 3D CAD and 3D printing lies in drastically improved pre-operative planning, less time spent in operating theaters, better surgical outcomes for patients, faster post-op recovery rates and overall lower costs for hospitals.
Seeing Inside the Human Body
As medical science has progressed, we’ve moved from X-rays to CT scans to MRIs. But nothing beats 3D imaging and 3D printing for the most incredibly accurate insight into a living human body.
Take little Lincoln Matthews for example. Lincoln was born with only one working ventricle (lower heart chamber) and a hole in the place of the other. His heart was also tilted to the opposite side of his chest.
By the age of seven, Lincoln was facing his third heart surgery. At the Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, drawing data from CT scans, MRIs and a 3D ultrasound, a replica of Lincoln’s heart was 3D printed in color. It enabled surgeons to study Lincoln’s heart in minute detail, determine which specialist would work on what during the surgery, which blood vessels were essential and which could be sacrificed in order to improve blood flow to areas where it was critically needed.
Nothing beats 3D imaging and 3D printing for the most incredibly accurate insight into a living human body.
Justin Ryan, director of the hospital’s 3D Innovation Lab, says the 3D models help surgeons plan for complicated surgeries and improve outcomes for their young patients. While some models are printed in plain white, many are printed in full color. Ryan explains that it makes it easier for patients and families to understand the diagnosis and surgery plan. “So if you’re able to say, ‘That purple chamber is connected to the red and blue vessel and it shouldn’t be that way,’ you create a new way to communicate with families.”
Dr. John Nigro, chief of the hospital’s cardiac surgery unit, says, “Before, I think we kind of had an idea in our mind, but you know, sometimes we would be fooled. We’d get in and it was a little different than we had anticipated …”
The 3D model of Lincoln’s heart detailed every vein, artery and valve, which enabled surgeons to plan the most efficient surgery possible, decreasing the duration of the surgery and improving post-operative recovery for Lincoln.
Today Lincoln Matthews is a happy boy, who proudly says he can run faster than he used to. He knows he’ll need a heart transplant at 21, but offered this advice for other children facing difficult surgeries: “Be brave and know that you’re very special.”
Sci-Fi Surgical Solutions
Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, is home to some research that sounds two parts science fiction and one part fantasy. It’s the kind of thing that wouldn’t be entirely out of place in an episode of Star Trek. You can almost imagine Bones or Dr. Crusher appearing on the bridge and proudly announcing, “Well, we’ve got an infertile mouse with no ovaries that just gave birth to some cute pups.” Say whaaat?
Hailed as the “holy grail of bioengineering for regenerative medicine,” a joint study by Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the McCormick School of Engineering surgically removed the ovaries of female mice and replaced them with 3D-printed bioprosthetic ovaries. Not only were the recipient mice able to ovulate, conceive and give birth to healthy pups, but they were also able to nurse their young.
The sole objective for developing this bioprosthetic was as a means to help restore fertility and hormone production in women who have either survived childhood cancer or have undergone adult cancer treatments that have reduced their fertility. The breakthroughs made at Northwestern may also significantly impact future work in soft tissue regenerative medicine.
One can barely imagine what other amazing outcomes in the field of healthcare will be made possible by CAD, 3D printing, 3D modeling and other technological advances.
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Not All Heroes Wear Gloves and Gowns
While CAD may have profound impacts in the healthcare field, it is not by any means the only industry where CAD produces wonderful outcomes.
Every day, designers and engineers change and improve the world we live in. At Axiom, we’ve long held that CAD and BIM professionals such as yourself are responsible for shaping our future and deserve all the help and support they can get. It’s why Axiom is dedicated to producing software to make your work life easier.
If we can reduce your stress and frustration, improve turnaround times, enhance your reputation and eliminate the drudgery of repetitive tasks, we consider our job done. For more information, see our MicroStation™, Revit™ or AutoCAD™ pages. If you have questions about your specific situation, call a knowledgeable Service Consultant at 727-442-7774 for answers.
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