LMI’s 3D-printed anatomical models help surgeons separate conjoined twins

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3D printed anatomical models developed by rapid prototyping service provider Laser Modeling Israel (LMI) helped surgeons in a complex segmentation surgery for conjoined twins.

Produced using HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology, the intricately detailed 3D printed models were practiced by surgeons before performing the operation, which was expected to be extremely difficult with multiple complications.

“HP’s 3D printing technology is not only hugely beneficial to the medical work we do, but also to the other industries we work for,” said Arie Kalo, Founder of LMI. “I find it extremely gratifying to see our products and solutions come to life.”

3D printed models of conjoined twins. Photo via LMI.

Installing HP MJF Technology

Since its establishment in 1998, LMI has provided rapid prototyping and manufacturing services to several high-tech companies in Israel. The company has provided 3D printed products for a wide range of industries including medical, military and consumer products.

In its early days, the company invested in an SLA 3D printer to fulfill its orders, but looked to HP’s MJF 3D printing technology as a better alternative. Since then, LMI has installed an HP MJF 217 machine and recently acquired a third HP MJF 4200 system during the Covid-19 pandemic to meet increased demand.

According to LMI, the accuracy of the MJF 4200 is “invaluable” to its 3D printing departments, as the quality controls built into the printer help minimize errors and allow easy and accurate tracking of a job’s progress. . These advantages are particularly advantageous for the production of medical models, and LMI has leveraged these capabilities for several joint venture partnerships with hospitals.

3D printed models have been used by surgeons to perform complex surgery.  Photo via LMI.
3D printed models have been used by surgeons to perform complex surgery. Photo via LMI.

Separating conjoined twins with 3D printed models

A particularly significant project in which LMI has deployed its medical expertise is the revolutionary segmentation surgery of two conjoined conjoined twins at the head. As part of the preparation for the operation, LMI worked with Limor Haviv, surgical 3D printing specialist and founder of surgical 3D printing company 3D4OP.

Haviv works in-house as a surgical specialist in hospitals across Israel and helps surgeons prepare for surgeries by designing models based on patients’ CT and MRI scans. LMI regularly works with Haviv to print its designs on its fleet of HP MJF printers, allowing Haviv to quickly deliver medical models to hospitals when needed.

For the segmentation surgery, LMI and Haviv worked together to design and print a model of the twins using an HP MJF 4200 machine and Pl12 and CPU materials. The partners produced the model’s body, skin and skull using HP’s 3D printing technology, while the more detailed parts, such as the veins, were made using a softer material.

The models have been manufactured in such a way that they can be connected by magnets and be fully mobile, in order to allow surgeons to simulate the surgical intervention as realistically as possible.

According to LMI, the MJF technology was perfectly suited for this particular application because parts produced using this technology are affordable and can be produced quickly and repeatedly. In the case of twin segmentation surgery, this was a key advantage because LMI could quickly produce models of different sizes as the twins grew.

The MJF 4200 made it possible to produce multiple models in one assembly, eliminating the need to print many separate parts that would slow down the production process.

An additional benefit of using MJF technology for model making was the materials used, which allowed the model to be painted in the color of skin tones. The material also made it possible to sterilize the model and therefore place it safely close to the operating area.

“The resolution of HP technology is amazing,” said Haviv. “It allows us to see all the intricate details such as small bones. The density of each bone can also be simulated according to each patient, which is extremely beneficial for medical staff.

The 3D printed models were attached and separated by magnets to simulate the real situation.  Photo via LMI.
The 3D printed models were attached and separated by magnets to simulate the real situation. Photo via LMI.

Helping surgery with 3D printing

Anatomical modeling is one of the most prolific applications of 3D printing in the medical industry, with a growing number of medical centers and hospitals operating their own in-house 3D printing facilities.

3D printed models, when combined with 3D scanning and X-ray technologies, can provide a much more accessible, affordable and individualized alternative to cadavers, for example, and have proven beneficial in better preparing surgeons for complex surgeries.

3D printing technologies, such as Mimaki’s, can produce anatomical models with previously unattainable levels of color fidelity, and save hours of surgical time in some cases. Additionally, an increasing number of 3D printing companies are obtaining ISO certification for their 3D printed models, in addition to obtaining FDA clearance.

Point-of-care 3D printed anatomical modeling services are therefore becoming increasingly popular, with companies like Stratasys and Ricoh USA combining their respective specialties to rapidly deliver 3D printed models to healthcare facilities, and Fast Radius and Axial3D designing a new ‘DICOM-to-print’ service for surgeons and hospitals across North America.

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Featured image shows 3D printed models of conjoined twins. Photo via LMI.

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