Of all the organs in the human body, perhaps the most complex and still least understood is the brain. As neuroscientists strive to uncover the mysteries of this remarkable structure, in doing so they can better address ailments and issues that are, at minimum, life altering, and at worst, life threatening.


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One of the major challenges in successfully treating brain issues is the limited opportunity to study a fully functioning human brain in real time. While neuroscientists most often rely on the testing of laboratory animals to study the brain, there’s a new option that’s already making a difference for individual patients and neurosurgery as a whole.

Trial And Error Pre-Op Practice  
By 3D printing models of the layered tissues and vessels that form the cerebral cortex, neurosurgeons get an opportunity to practice critical operations on human brain replicas.

The innovation gives doctors the opportunities to try various approaches to complicated operations and better ensure they’re taking the best course of action when treating a specific issue, such as a brain aneurysm.

Doctors have had the opportunity to perform these types of trail and error practice sessions on silicone models, but newer 3D printed replicas allow for a more accurate representations of the brain. Patient scans can be easily reproduced in 3D polymers, which allows doctors to approach a patient’s unique needs and determine what will work and what will not.

The Merits Of 3D Printed Models 
This trial and error processes is now helping neurosurgeons get a better understanding of what they’ll encounter during a real operation and subsequently allow them to better prepare for it.

3D printed surgical aids are also helping more than neurology patients; hearts, skulls, portions of the skin, and other organs can also be 3D printed from patient scans and used for pre-op practice sessions.

Credit: Nevit

While this approach is not yet widespread in hospitals, the doctors that make use of the technology are proving its merits, which could help widen access for other doctors.

What are your thoughts on this use of 3D printing? Would you feel better knowing surgeon had a chance to practice on a 3D model before you went in for surgery? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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