Using 3D technology, radiologists at Phoenix Children’s can determine a tumor’s exact size and physicians can discern subtle changes in size or shape over time and treatment. The precision of 3D imaging allows oncologists to identify the most viable course of treatment and determine whether treatment is shrinking a patient’s tumor.
“When I model a tumor or model a heart or bone into a 3-dimensional object in our 3D Lab, it’s an instant picture. It’s something anybody can perceive,” says Dr. Bardo. “A patient can perceive it. Their parents can perceive it well and understand the disease and proposed treatment more readily. The physician that’s caring for them, the surgeon that may be repairing something, and the radiologists all have this understanding.”
Innovation in image processing and the evolution from 2D to 3D has led to greater accuracy. The 3D Innovation Lab at Phoenix Children’s develops images that are translated by the Hospital’s Cardiac 3D Print Lab to incorporate advanced post-processing technologies. These models help prepare physicians for complex procedures by creating accurate models of defective hearts, limb deficiencies, injured internal organs, and even tumors.
Cardiovascular surgeons, for example, can view individual segment parts of the heart using a 3D image, or can hold a 3D print of the heart in their hands. Both can help them gain a better understanding of complex anatomy prior to surgery.
“We process the images in radiology, reconstruct and segment the anatomy, and then send it electronically to our Cardiac 3D Print Lab. If it’s necessary for the surgeon or patient-family to better understand the anatomy, we can make a 3D printed image of the heart. We can allow a doctor or a family to hold a heart in the palm of their hand,” Justin Ryan, Research Scientist of the Cardiac 3D Print Lab at Phoenix Children’s.
The models also help families understand their infant’s surgery and help train medical students and residents. “We have so many uses for these 3D printed models. The child can take it to school for show-and-tell, bring it to the OR for planning, or carry it to the clinic for family education. It’s all very integrated into the child’s life from a holistic care perspective, and it all starts in radiology,” says Dr. Ryan.