Published 1 July 2022
Surgeons at East Kent Hospitals are using 3D printed models and advanced image augmentation of body parts to potentially help improve outcomes for patients.
Urology consultants are investigating whether these tools – which can show the location of tumours such as prostate cancer, as well as blood vessels and other structures – help to plan operations.
They are also using them to explain procedures to patients so they can visualise the treatment they need and why it is necessary.
Consultant urological robot surgeon Sashi Kommu, who is leading the project, said: “For patients due to have prostate cancer removed with the robot, if I can put a model of their prostate into their hand or show them advanced imaging animations of their own prostate, they can visualise it better than a traditional description.
“It means they can understand where the tumour is and why I am recommending that the whole gland is removed.
“It also helps the whole team in the operating theatre understand and plan what we are doing and I believe it could help us improve our outcomes in cancer surgery.
“We are using leading-edge technology to define the parameters of the tumour which means we can optimise our planning for surgery potentially even more accurately than ever before.”
The team are working with Innersight Labs to create 3D visualisations from MRI and CT scans, and with Mckenzie Developments to create 3D printed models.
Scott McKenzie, from Mckenzie Developments, prints the models on a specially-designed printer.
He said: “This is the first time I have been asked to print body parts but I think it will be a growing area and it’s something I’m keen to be more involved in.
“Being able to see the anatomy in the form of a model gives an extra layer of insight and takes away any uncertainty about what the team might encounter once they start the operation.”
The procedures will be carried out using the Trust’s robot, which sees highly trained surgeons operate using instruments inserted in the body through small incisions. A high-tech camera is also inserted to give a clear view of inside the body, and the surgeon uses their hands and feet to control the movement of the camera and the instruments.
Dr Akash Parshar, consultant interventional radiologist, who helps with translating conventional images to the 3D image augmentation model said: “I am excited to be involved in this project. Advanced imaging and 3D anatomical reconstructions would surely enhance patient understanding and surgical outcomes. It is going to be the next stage in cancer treatment algorithms.”
Mr Ed Streeter consultant urological robot surgeon said: “It is great to be a part of the team driving innovation to try and improve our care of patients.”
Sashi added: “We continue to push the boundaries of innovation to help us provide the best possible care and results for our patients.”