Role of Rapid Digital Manufacture in Planning and Implementation of Complex Medical Treatments

Andrew M. Christensen and Stephen M. Humphries

The evolution of medical imaging has provided clinicians with the means for detailed views of the structure and function of patient anatomy. Further, software packages that construct complex virtual models using this image data are in common usage not only for qualitative visual inspection but also for quantitative planning of treatment parameters. While the combination of image data and computer modeling yields a variety of tools for visualization and treatment, difficulties remain in designing and implementing preplanned treatment parameters.

Advances in manufacturing technology have made possible the fabrication of highly accurate, custom physical models of patient anatomy and patient-specific treatment aides. For example, rapid prototyping (RP) generated anatomical models translate image data into solid replicas giving surgeons the means for tactile interaction with patient anatomy prior to the operation. Such models are used frequently to plan complex craniofacial surgeries, and as the basis for customization of devices such as titanium plates. In addition, treatment devices that incorporate patient-specific anatomical features and preplanned treatment parameters such as drill trajectories or osteotomy planes give surgeons elegant and reliable tools to carry treatment designs from the computer to the operating room (OR).

Advanced Manufacturing Technology for Medical Applications Edited by I. Gibson © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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