By Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, July 8, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Cutting-edge 3-D technology is making more inroads in medicine, this time helping doctors save a patient's kidney during difficult tumor-removal surgery.
Patient Linda Green's tumor was located in a challenging location next to vital arteries and veins, explained doctors at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City.
To prepare for the surgery, CT scans were used to produce an exact 3D-printed model of the patient's kidney. The model had two halves, which enabled the doctors to determine exactly how the tumor was attached to the patient's kidney.
Based on this information, the patient's surgical team was able to work around the sensitive areas, successfully remove the tumor, and save the kidney. The model helped them spot a small "nub" of the tumor that had grown up into a pocket of the kidney.
"Without the 3D model, the visual images of the CT scans would not have allowed us to identify this nub prior to the surgery," Dr. Jay Bischoff, director of the medical center's Urological Institute, said in a hospital news release.
"The 3D printing technology allowed us to prepare a more complete plan for the patient's surgery, show the patient the complexities of the procedure and what would be done during surgery to remove the tumor and save the kidney," he said.
"I'm just so thankful for everybody at the hospital who was involved," Green said.
This isn't the first time 3-D printing has been used to help surgeons plan and carry out delicate procedures. For example, prior reports at centers elsewhere have shown the technology may be useful in modeling children's heart transplants, or correcting congenital heart defects. A prior surgery also used 3-D printers to recreate an airway structure that help the patient breathe.
"While this technology is in its infancy, it is a big step forward in using new technologies like 3D printing to improve patient care," Bishoff said.