Methods of 3D printing models of pituitary tumors
Abstract: Background: Pituitary adenomas can give rise to a variety of clinical disorders and surgery is often the primary treatment option. However, preoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) does not always reliably identify the site of an adenoma. In this setting molecular (functional) imaging (e.g. 11C-methionine PET/CT) may help with tumor localisation, although interpretation of these 2D images can be challenging. 3D printing of anatomical models for other indications has been shown to aid surgical planning and improve patient understanding of the planned procedure. Here, we explore the potential utility of four types of 3D printing using PET/CT and co-registered MRI for visualising pituitary adenomas. Methods: A 3D patient-specific model based on a challenging clinical case was created by segmenting the pituitary gland, pituitary adenoma, carotid arteries and bone using contemporary PET/CT and MR images. The 3D anatomical models were printed using VP, MEX, MJ and PBF 3D printing methods. Different anatomical structures were printed in color with the exception of the PBF anatomical model where a single color was used. The anatomical models were compared against the computer model to assess printing accuracy. Three groups of clinicians (endocrinologists, neurosurgeons and ENT surgeons) assessed the anatomical models for their potential clinical utility. Results: All of the printing techniques produced anatomical models which were spatially accurate, with the commercial printing techniques (MJ and PBF) and the consumer printing techniques (VP and MEX) demonstrating comparable findings (all techniques had mean spatial differences from the computer model of < 0.6 mm). The MJ, VP and MEX printing techniques yielded multicolored anatomical models, which the clinicians unanimously agreed would be preferable to use when talking to a patient; in contrast, 50%, 40% and 0% of endocrinologists, neurosurgeons and ENT surgeons respectively would consider using the PBF model. Conclusion: 3D anatomical models of pituitary tumors were successfully created from PET/CT and MRI using four different 3D printing techniques. However, the expert reviewers unanimously preferred the multicolor prints. Importantly, the consumer printers performed comparably to the commercial MJ printing technique, opening the possibility that these methods can be adopted into routine clinical practice with only a modest investment.
Funder: National Institute for Health Research; doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000272