A team of researchers led by the University of Minnesota has 3D printed lifelike artificial organ models that mimic the exact anatomical structure, mechanical properties, and look and feel of real organs. In this study, the research team took MRI scans and tissue samples from three patients’.
According to lead researcher Michael McAlpine, an associate professor of mechanical engineering in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering, “We are developing next-generation organ models for pre-operative practice. The organ models we are 3D printing are almost a perfect replica in terms of the look and feel of an individual’s organ, using our custom-built 3D printers,” and 2017 recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).
“We think these organ models could be ‘game-changers’ for helping surgeons better plan and practice for surgery. We hope this will save lives by reducing medical errors during surgery.”
3D printed organ models are made using hard plastics or rubbers.
Researchers tested the tissue and developed customized silicone-based inks that can be “tuned” to precisely match the mechanical properties of each patient’s prostate tissue.
“The sensors could give surgeons real-time feedback on how much force they can use during surgery without damaging the tissue,” said Kaiyan Qiu, a University of Minnesota mechanical engineering postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the paper. “This could change how surgeons think about personalized medicine and pre-operative practice.”
The researchers then attached soft, 3D printed sensors to the organ models and observed the reaction of the model prostates during compression tests and the application of various surgical tools.:)