In a series of incredibly painful coincidences, a man showed doctors first hand just how 3-D printing could change the way they perform surgeries. I almost didn't believe it at first.
John Cousins, the managing director of Isodo3D, was in the middle of a presentation to the NHS when the worst happened. He was attempting to show the Royal Bournemouth Hospital surgeons attending the presentation how the 3-D technology worked when he collapsed in excruciating pain.
"It was sheer pain, I couldn't take it anymore," Cousins told IBTimes UK. "I was just demonstrating how the machine works, but I was in so much pain that 10 minutes later I was in an ambulance."
Cousins was rushed to the nearest hospital where they discovered he had appendicitis and a "stag head" kidney stone at a whopping 3.5cm by 2.5cm. To put that in perspective, that's wider than a quarter across and about as tall as a dime and a quarter together. All I can say is "Ouch!"
But the silver lining to this painful story is that Cousins got to show first hand just how his 3-D printing technology could revolutionize surgery.
"With the help of Isodo3D's software specialist Matthew Todd and a 3D Systems ProJet 660 Pro full-colour 3D printer, Cousins was able to help his surgeons plan how to treat him by providing them with a 3D-printed model of the kidney, complete with the kidney stone in the middle."
You can see in the photo below how large the kidney stone was. It's the blue part of the 3-D model. All images courtesy of Isodo3D.
The model was created using a CT scan of Cousins, then using specialized software to identify the kidney and convert it into a 3-D model on the computer. Then the model of Cousins' kidney was printed. The entire process took about five hours. Image courtesy of Isodo3D.
But the printing of the kidney model wasn't just a continuation of the presentation. The surgeons that operated on Cousins to remove the kidney stone referred to the model for the duration of the surgery.
Cousins had his two hour surgery on Monday and is expected to be discharged from the hospital soon. As you can imagine, hospitals are clamoring to get this kind of 3-D printing technology.
"The technology is slowly making its way into the NHS and so far, 12 NHS trust hospitals are using 3D-printed models of jaw bones, hip bones, forearms and cranial plastics to test out implants and plan surgeries."