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Evolution in surgical planning: 4D printing

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The next evolution of additive manufacturing technology is here with surgeons describing the technique of four dimensional printing for preoperative planning in hand surgery.

Four dimensional (4D) printing describes the use of 3D printed haptic models with the added dimension of time to show the change in the model, providing superior anatomical information about the movement of the bones in a hand.

Using 4D computed tomography (CT) scans of bones of a patient’s hand, surgeons in Melbourne were able to demonstrate an accurate representation of their movements during thumb abduction, opposition and key pinch.

The detail of the process is presented in a case report by Dr Michael Chae, a plastic surgery resident and PhD candidate at Monash University under the supervision of Prof Julian Smith, A/Prof David Hunter-Smith, Prof Paul McMenamin, and Mr Warren Rozen, at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress in Brisbane.

"Over the past decade 3D printing has transformed the way surgeons conduct preoperative planning. Here we were able to explore the application of 4D printing in surgical planning," Dr Chae said.

"We demonstrated how 4D printing can accurately depict the translation of metacarpals during various thumb movements.

"With tactile feedback from the biomodels and their ability to accurately represent anatomical details, 4D printing delivers complex spatiotemporal details."

"With the the increasing availability of 4D CT scanners, 4D printing has the potential to become widely accessible for surgical planning and improve clinical outcomes for patients."

More than a thousand surgeons from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons as well as international surgeons from the Royal College of Surgeons of England are gathering at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this week for a series of workshops, discussions, plenaries and masterclasses across a broad range of surgical issues.

The conference brings together some of the world’s leading medical and surgical minds, this year focusing on the theme of surgery, technology and communication.

Dr Chae would like to acknowledge the co-authors of this study: A/Prof David Hunter-Smith, Dr Inoka De-Silva, Mr Stephen Tham, A/Prof Bob Spychal, and Mr Warren Rozen.

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