Surgeons develop personalised 3D printed kidney to simulate surgery prior to cancer operation

For the first time, surgeons have used 3D printing to produce exact models of tumour-containing kidneys, allowing them to simulate surgery prior to the real operation. These models can be personalised to each patient, giving doctors a 3D model of each individual's tumour.

Note: photos and video available see below.

Kidney cancers are the 8th most common cancer affecting adults, accounting for around 3% of all cancers in Europe; In 2012 it was estimated that there would be approximately 84.400 new cases of Kidney cancer with 34,700 deaths. It is usually treated surgically, but the operations can be stressful, and speed and accuracy are essential.

The ability to produce exact 3-dimensional models of objects means that 3D printing is set to revolutionise many fields. Now a group of surgeons from Kobe University in Japan has combined the 3D imaging capabilities of Computer Tomography, with 3D printing, to produce exact scale model of kidneys prior to surgery. This allows surgeons to practice surgery in difficult kidney cancer cases. So far they have produced ten 3D kidney models to assist in kidney cancer operations.

The group used computer tomography to produce a 3D scan of a diseased kidney. They then fed this information into a commercially-available 3D printer to produce a 3D model of the diseased kidney. As the scan is personalised for each patient, this meant that the surgeons were able to construct a 3D scale model of each individual's kidney cancer.

The model - which was printed using two different materials- allowed the surgeons to accurately determine the margins of the kidney tumours. The 3D printed organ model was made of transparent material so that the blood vessels could be seen from the outside, meaning that surgeons could see the exact position of the blood vessels prior to surgery. This allowed the surgeons to simulate surgery on the kidney tumour prior to real surgery. The surgery itself was then performed robotically.