A technology usually reserved for designing buildings, bridges and aircraft has now been used to aid breast tissue reconstruction in cancer patients.
In a study published today, Thursday 8 September, in IOP Publishing's journal Biofabrication, researchers used computer-aided design (CAD) to create an extremely accurate mould of a breast that was used as a visual aid to surgeons in tissue reconstruction operations.
Furthermore, CAD was used to design and produce patient-specific physical scaffolds that could potentially be used in conjunction with one of the most promising areas of medicine - tissue engineering.
In theory, patients' own cells could be harnessed and grown onto the highly specific scaffold and then transferred to the affected area, avoiding the need to transfer tissue from other parts of the body which can cause large scars, result in considerable blood loss and require five to ten hours of anaesthesia.
Study co-author, Professor Dietmar Hutmacher, said, "We would take a laser scan of the healthy breast and use the CAD modeling process to design a patient-specific scaffold in silico. We would then produce a scaffold of very high porosity and load it with the patient's own cells in combination with a hydrogel. The construct would then be implanted."
CAD the use of computer technology in the process of design holds several advantages over traditional pen and paper approaches including the ability to work to full scale, examine the design from all angles and maintain absolute accuracy.
After informed consent, 3D laser scanning was performed on three female patients who suffered from breast cancer. The images were then fed into a piece of CAD-software which produced a single image representing the patient's breast and surrounding thorax region.
This image was then "printed" to form a 3D mould which was used as an operative aid for surgeons who performed autologous tissue reconst
|Contact: Michael Bishop|
Institute of Physics